A’s and Rich Harden agree to one-year, $1.5 million contract

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Rich Harden and the A’s have agreed to a one-year contract worth $1.5 million in guaranteed money and another $1.5 million in potential incentives, according to a major league source.

Harden, who was drafted by the A’s in 2000 and pitched in Oakland from 2003 to mid-2008, returns after stints with the Cubs and Rangers.

He hasn’t been injury free for an entire season since way back in 2004 and for the first time this year Harden’s performance suffered even when he was healthy enough to pitch, as he went 5-5 with a 5.58 ERA and 75/62 K/BB ratio in 92 innings for the Rangers, who bumped him from the rotation and then left him off the postseason roster.

His average fastball velocity dropped to a career-low 90.5 miles per hour this year and has gradually declined from his peak of 94.3 and 94.4 mph in 2004 and 2005, so the longstanding belief that Harden is capable of making a huge impact if he can just stay healthy is also now in plenty of doubt. Still, the price is right and Harden was 36-19 with a 3.42 ERA and 523 strikeouts in 542 innings for the A’s the first time around.

Red Sox designate Eduardo Núñez for assignment

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The Red Sox announced a handful of roster moves on Monday afternoon: infielder Eduardo Núñez has been designated for assignment, pitcher Hector Velázquez has been optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket, and pitcher Ryan Weber and 1B/OF Sam Travis have both been recalled from Pawtucket.

Núñez, 32, has had an awful year, batting .228/.243/.305 with two homers and 20 RBI in 174 plate appearances. He’s owed the remainder of his $4 million salary. Odds are Núñez will pass through waivers and become a free agent, after which his odds of landing with a team will go up.

Velázquez, 30, tossed 36 pitches in an inning of work against the Dodgers last night, taking the loss after allowing three runs in the 12th inning.

Travis, 25, is back for his second stint in the majors this season. Thus far, he has a .387 OPS in 31 trips to the dish.

Weber, 28, has accrued 19 1/3 innings thus far, allowing 11 runs on 24 hits and three walks with 14 strikeouts.