I’ll try to avoid the usual durability jokes and simply pass this news along, because Rich Harden has certainly had it rough enough.
The oft-injured right-hander has resumed throwing off a mound following two months on the sidelines with lat muscle soreness, but manager Bob Geren cautioned to Jane Lee of MLB.com that there’s no timetable for Harden to appear in a simulated game, let alone for him to actually come off the disabled list.
Harden, who has yet to pitch for the A’s after signing an incentive-laden one-year deal as a free agent, threw off a mound Sunday and yesterday, with Geren describing him as “free and easy.”
Normally this is where I’d make some snide comment but I’ll hold off, at least until Harden’s next setback.
An interesting tidbit today from The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, who noted that ongoing talks between agent Scott Boras and the Padres have focused more on starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel than slugger Bryce Harper. Earlier this week, there were conflicting reports on the Padres’ level of interest in Harper — MLB Network’s Jon Heyman heard the club had not ruled out another big signing after getting Manny Machado, while Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune talked to multiple sources who believed otherwise — but any agreement between the two is looking unlikelier by the day.
As for Keuchel, Rosenthal cautions that a potential deal is still a “longshot,” especially as the team has other, cheaper options in mind. The 31-year-old southpaw turned down a qualifying offer from the Astros last year and is likely angling for something north of the five-year, $90 million contract extension he rejected from the club in 2016. He’s coming off of another solid performance in Houston, where he went 12-11 in 34 starts with a 3.74 ERA, 2.6 BB/9, 6.7 SO/9, and 3.6 fWAR through 204 2/3 innings in 2018.
While Keuchel has failed to garner substantial interest around the league this offseason, Heyman points out that the Phillies are looking to establish themselves as frontrunners for the lefty — and they’re far less likely to have hang-ups about his asking price, too.