UPDATE: Not so fast on this one. Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle hears that the A’s have talked to Harden, but that he might have better offers elsewhere. Meanwhile, Renck writes that he hasn’t confirmed his information with the A’s.
So, nothing to see here. At least not yet.
6:56 PM: Here’s an interesting one.
Sources are telling Troy Renck of the Denver Post that Rich Harden is signing with the Athletics.
Harden was originally drafted by the Athletics in 2000 and posted a 3.42 ERA over parts of six seasons with the club before being traded to the Cubs in July of 2008. While Harden can be electric at times, health problems have dogged him throughout his career. The Rangers found out first hand this past season, as the 29-year-old right-hander missed time with a glute strain and shoulder tendinitis while posting a disappointing 5.58 ERA over 20 games (18 starts). He averaged 7.3 K/9 and 6.1 BB/9, both career-worsts.
It’s hard to count on Harden for much, but he’s well worth signing to an incentive-laden deal, with a legitimate chance to rebound in the pitcher-friendly Coliseum. Assuming this goes though, Harden will likely compete with Brandon McCarthy, Josh Outman, Tyson Ross and Bobby Cramer for the final spot in the starting rotation.
Update (7:01 PM EDT): David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports the deal has been completed.
ESPN’s Keith Law reported on Saturday evening that a bad contract swap involving the Braves’ Hector Olivera and the Padres’ Matt Kemp was “getting close.” Olivera has been pulled off the field, per Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that only a last-second medical would kill the deal at this point, and that the Padres will be sending money to the Braves.
Kemp, 31, will have $64.5 million remaining on his contract through 2019 after this season, but the Dodgers will pay $3.5 million annually over those remaining three years, so the $64.5 million is really $54 million. The veteran has compiled a .262/.285/.489 triple-slash line with 23 home runs and 69 RBI in 431 plate appearances for the Padres this season.
Olivera, 31, will have $28.5 million remaining on his contract through 2020 after this season. The outfielder was handed an 82-game suspension, beginning on May 26, for his involvement in a domestic dispute on April 13. The suspension is up on August 2. He has a .501 OPS in 21 major league at-bats this season and a .278 OPS in 37 PA at Triple-A.
Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that the Padres will consider designating Olivera for assignment. The trade is all about the salary dump for the Padres, as they’d rather give outfield playing time to prospects Hunter Renfroe and Manuel Margot.
The Athletics and Royals swapped outfielders on Saturday. The Athletics sent Billy Burns to Kansas City and the Royals sent Brett Eibner to Oakland.
Burns, 26, doesn’t provide much in the way of offense, but he runs the bases well and plays solid defense. He was hitting .234/.270/.303 with 11 doubles, four triples, and 14 stolen bases in 274 plate appearances.
Eibner, 27, was batting .231/.286/.423 with three home runs and 10 RBI in 85 plate appearances. He has spent most of the season with Triple-A Omaha, where he’s put up a .902 OPS in 219 PA. Eibner played the outfield corners in the majors, but racked up a ton of time playing center in the minors, so his versatility will be valuable to the A’s.
Burns will become eligible for arbitration for the first time after the 2017 season while Eibner has hardly accrued any service time, which might explain part of the motivation behind the trade for the small-market Athletics.