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.
No surprise here: The Astros are headed back to the postseason to defend their title following a landslide 11-3 win over the Angels on Friday. This figures to be their third playoff run since 2015, though they have yet to wrap up the AL West with a division title.
First baseman Yuli Gurriel led the charge on Friday, smashing a grand slam in the first inning and tacking on a two-run homer in the second and RBI single in the fifth to help the Astros to a seven-run lead. The Angels eventually returned fire, first with Mike Trout‘s 418-foot homer in the sixth, then with an RBI hit from Francisco Arcia in the seventh, but they couldn’t close the gap in time to overtake the Astros.
On the mound, right-hander Gerrit Cole clinched his 15th win of the year after holding the Angels to seven innings of three-run, 12-strikeout ball. His sixth strikeout of the night — delivered on an 83.1-MPH knuckle curveball to Kaleb Cowart — also marked the 1,000th strikeout of his career to date. He was backed by flawless performances by lefty reliever Tony Sipp and rookie right-hander Dean Deetz, both of whom turned in scoreless innings as the offense barreled toward an 11-3 finish with Jake Marisnick‘s sac bunt and George Springer‘s three-run shot in the eighth.
Despite having qualified for the playoffs, the Astros still carry a magic number of 6 as they look to clinch a third straight division title. They’re currently up against the Athletics, who entered Friday’s contest against the Twins just four games back of first place in the AL West.