Dec 9, 2009, 6:09 PM EDT
As our own Craig Calcaterra reported earlier, Rich Harden is joining the Rangers on a one-year, $7.5 million deal with an $11.5 million option for 2010.
The price seems about right, but the destination is still rather surprising. It’s hard to imagine that there weren’t going to be teams willing to present similar, if not superior, offers. And if Harden’s goal is to land a big multiyear deal at some point, it would have been easier to accomplish had he been pitching in Safeco or just about any National League park. Or pitching for the Red Sox or Yankees would have gained him more exposure and perhaps have allowed him to showcase himself in the postseason.
Pitching in Texas is famously difficult, of course. The ballpark is as hitter friendly as any in the American League, and the heat is well known for wearing players down over the course of a 162-game season. In the last dozen years, the Rangers have had three pitchers qualify for the ERA title and finish under 4.00:
Kevin Millwood – 3.67 ERA in 2009
Kenny Rogers – 3.46 ERA in 2005
Kenny Rogers – 3.84 ERA in 2002
That’s not to say teams won’t necessarily recognize that Harden has had a successful season if he comes in at 4.20 in 2010. But given that there was a significant market for his services, he may well have been better off heading elsewhere.
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