Rich Harden pitched three hitless innings and fanned six while walking just one Monday in his first rehab start for Triple-A Sacramento.
Harden, who has been on the DL since the beginning of the season with a shoulder strain, threw 30 of his 42 pitches for strikes.
The A’s may well have used Harden as a reliever had he made it through the spring healthy, but since they currently have four of their top six starters on the DL in Brett Anderson, Dallas Braden, Brandon McCarthy and Tyson Ross, there’s no doubt that Harden is being groomed to slide into the rotation once he’s ready.
And since he threw just 42 pitches today, that’s going to take a while. Even if Harden doesn’t experience any setbacks — and that’s far, far from a given — he might not debut until after the All-Star break. At the bare minimum, he’s likely to need three more rehab starts to get stretched out.
The Phillies and Red Sox appear intent on pursuing free agent first baseman Carlos Santana, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports. Santana rejected a one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Indians on Thursday and is expected to draw widespread interest on the market this winter. The Mets, Mariners, Angels and Indians could make a play for the infielder, though no serious offers have been made this early in the offseason.
Santana, 31, is coming off of a seven-year track with the Indians. He batted .259/.363/.455 with 23 home runs and 3.0 fWAR last season, making 2017 the fourth-most valuable year of his career to date. Although he was primarily stationed at first base over the last year, he could step back into a hybrid first base/DH role with the Red Sox, who are hurting for infield depth with Hanley Ramirez still working his way back from shoulder surgery.
As for Santana’s other suitors, the Mariners are far less likely to pursue a deal after trading for Ryon Healy last Wednesday. Neither the Mets nor the Phillies have a DH spot to offer the veteran infielder, and the Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins appears to be blocking the way at first base. Then again, Santana may not find a more enticing offer outside of Cleveland, where Edwin Encarnacion might otherwise be the club’s best option at first base. During the GM meetings, Indians’ GM Mike Chernoff said he “love to have both [Santana and Jay Bruce] back” in 2018, but hasn’t backed up that love with any contract talks just yet.