Rich Harden’s Future with the Oakland Athletics is Uncertain

It’s very difficult to comprehend the A’s organization. I’ve tried for the better part of the last 10 years, and I still don’t have a clue.

The question of what to do with Rich Harden is another challenging one. He’s already been traded once this year, and although it fell through, Harden’s future with the A’s is still very unclear.

Rich Harden was drafted by the A’s way back in 2000 and made his major league debut in 2003. Since then, Harden has been an injury magnet. He’s spent time on the disabled list in every season since 2005 including this season. But, he is talented. Despite arm, oblique, shoulder, ankle and other bodily injuries Harden has endured in his nine- year career, and is still immensely gifted.

Harden has a career record of 58-36, 903 strikeouts, and a 3.65 ERA in 162 games pitched. Those numbers, compressed into a five season block would make Harden a top ten pitcher of the decade. His problem is obviously durability. This season saw Harden sidelined by injury until July 1st. He’s made seven starts since returning from the DL, and looked perfectly healthy. It is impossible to predict how Harden will perform the rest of the season but for argument’s sake let’s try.

If Harden starts nine more games, finishes with 7-4 record and an ERA of 3.50, is it worth it keeping Harden next season? The A’s will have a rotation of Cahill, Gonzalez and three question marks. Brandon McCarthy should be brought back, while Moscoso, Outman, and Tyson Ross will all be fighting for the remaining slots in the rotation.

Long term Outman and Ross will likely be the players to keep, but Harden, on another cheap contract isn’t a bad option either. If he can prove himself to be healthy for half a season, perhaps a larger trade could be worked out before the next trade deadline.

Perhaps the A’s could sign Harden and then trade him next spring training. Teams are always looking for cheap quality starters, (see the Giants). A few might be willing to part with mid-level prospects for a pitcher like Harden. Take it one step further, and package Harden with some young talent for a star quality player like Hanley Ramirez. Again, this is just an idea.

Harden is building value by the day, either for trade or for a job next year. However, it is impossible to see into the future and that is why Rich Harden’s crystal ball is currently very cloudy.

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