Thursday, August 20, 2009

What to do about Rich Harden?

Before the second half started the question about Rich Harden's impending free agency was non-existent. He had been awful, and the Cubs don't need to invest another big contract in a pitcher who is injury prone and also not good. His performance since the All-Star game has made us all rethink our position on him though. Including last nights 7IP 1H 0R showing, Harden has been 3-1 with a 1.64 ERA, 55 strikeouts, 20 hits, eight earned runs, a .136 batting average against, in 44 innings pitched.

It's pretty clear Harden is lining himself up a decent payday from some team, the question is should it be the Cubs? With an eternity committed to Big Z already, three more years for Dempster, and Ted Lilly due for a re-up after next season the Cubs already have significant cash committed to three pitchers. Randy Wells has put himself into the rotation for next season as well, which means four spots are claimed already. 

Harden could probably get a four year $40 million type deal right now on the open market, especially considering he's been healthy most of the season. That would mean the Cubs have $52.3 million due to four pitchers in 2010. Is that really something a team wants to do considering the injury risk presented by at least two of those pitchers (Dempster and Harden)?

Right now I would say the Cubs should offer Harden a two or three year deal worth seven or eight million a year. The contract would have to include plenty of incentives, and perhaps make the third year a vesting option based on innings pitched. That way if and when Harden gets hurt again the Cubs would be somewhat protected. 

It would be difficult to see Harden go when he pitches like this, but I would still like to see it over an entire season. It will probably never happen, and it annoys me that once again the Cubs will get in bed with a injury prone pitcher, but gosh darn it you can't let Harden walk away when he's shutting down teams like he is right now.

No comments:

Post a Comment