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

Dec 15, 2010, 11:59 AM EDT

Rich Harden throwing

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.

  1. Joe - Dec 15, 2010 at 12:09 PM

    Better than the Ben Sheets contract last winter.

  2. BC - Dec 15, 2010 at 12:25 PM

    He’s one of those “what-if” guys. When he’s been on, he’s basically unhittable. But its been quite a while now.

  3. apbaguy - Dec 15, 2010 at 1:27 PM

    The troubling part is the decline in velocity. BP did a study last year that showed that RH starters must have an average velocity over 91 on the fastball to be successful. There really is no such thing as a successful right handed finesse pitcher.

    This contract does represent an improvement for teh A’s in that their exposure is limited to $ 1M, rather than the $ 10M they spent on Sheets.

    I wonder if Brett Tomko is in the mix this year…

    • BC - Dec 15, 2010 at 1:45 PM

      I don’t think Greg Maddux ever threw 91 in his life. He was moderately successful.

      • clydeserra - Dec 15, 2010 at 2:07 PM


        Harden essentially has a fastball and a change/splitter thingy. Without a great fastball his K rates have shrunk and BB rates risen.

    • spindervish - Dec 15, 2010 at 2:02 PM

      Mike Mussina. Shaun Marcum. James Shields. Bronson Arroyo. Chris Young. That took me 30 seconds.

      Please dude…

  4. stealofhome - Dec 15, 2010 at 3:45 PM

    I heard he tore a ligament signing the contract.

    • jjschiller - Dec 15, 2010 at 6:05 PM

      Nah, that was just scar tissue.

      • clydeserra - Dec 15, 2010 at 10:06 PM

        well, the A’s are hoping skipping his next start will allow him to feel 100%. He is Day to day.

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