After this season, one of the Cubs’ top starting pitchers, Rich Harden becomes a free agent. Harden is one of many pitchers who show an ability to dominate when healthy, but due to injury concerns, cannot go 6, 7 innings consistently. Harden was superb in 2008 for the Cubs, going 5-1 with a 1.77 ERA, and a 0.97 WHIP in 12 starts after being acquired at the trade deadline, however, injury concerns caused him to throw only 71 innings for Chicago, not quite 6 innings per start.
Harden has had an up-and-down 2009, complete with HR struggles, and back issues. Through 19 starts this year, Harden is 7-7 with a 4.41 ERA, and a 1.35 WHIP. His high ERA and WHIP are products of a high BABIP, and a regression from a low BABIP in 2008. Despite his struggles, Harden has shown almost identical strikeout and walk rates in 2008 and 2009.
With all the injuries the Cubs have had this year, and the fact that Harden has dominated in his combined full season with the Cubs, it is necessary that the Cubs re-sign Harden as he hits free agency. However, with Harden’s injury history, the Cubs, or any team for that matter, should commit to a deal longer than two-years. The optimal deal would be a 2-year $12-16 million contract, but who knows what Harden will demand, or receive with all his potential. The Cubs do not have a player who could step in take over Harden’s rotation spot, which is why they must re-sign him this offseason.
- Alex Rios and the Blue Jays
Temperental bust, awarded a 7-year/$70 million, heavily backloaded contract, based on one good year. Rios has shown that his ceiling is only a 20/20 player. He’ll lose part of that speed over time, for sure. If the Blue Jays hang onto him, which seemed to be their only choice because of his contract, they would eventually be paying 12.5 million dollars for a solely above-average, hitter and an average fielder. But now the unthinkable has happened. A MLB team, likely the White Sox, has claimed Rios on waivers. The Blue Jays now have ’till 1:30 ET tomorrow to trade Rios to the claiming team, or let him go to the claiming team for nothing. This is a golden opportunity for the Jays to shed payroll, they should just let Rios go. Why any team would want Rios is just puzzling. Once again, a golden opportunity to let Rios walk away.