NEW YORK, NY - JULY 23: Rich Harden #18 of the Oakland Athletics delivers a pitch against the New York Yankees on July 23, 2011 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
UPDATE 12:04 p.m. SUNDAY: According to Sean McAdam of CSNNE, the Red Sox tried to remove the player to be named later in the deal and just deal Lars Anderson straight up for Rich Harden, but were denied.
UPDATE 2:13 a.m. SUNDAY: Speier chimes in once again to inform us that the Red Sox cancelled the trade because of his medical records. Harden has missed most of this year with a strained lat muscle and has been on the D.L. ten times in his careers. It's clear the Red Sox will be getting a pitcher at the deadline, just not a lot of options left at this point.
UPDATE 1:46 a.m. SUNDAY: According to WEEI.com's Alex Speier, the Red Sox could still make the trade happen, but that they are "not counting on it" it happening. If this deal has fallen through, expect the Red Sox to acquire a starting pitcher. My guess: Erik Bedard.
UPDATE 1:09 a.m. SUNDAY: According to multiple Oakland media sources and MLB.com's Ian Browne, the Rich Harden trade to the Red Sox has fallen through. At this point, no one knows why or how. My guess: The Red Sox found something in Harden's medicals they didn't like at the last moment. More on this to come but as of right now, it's Erik Bedard or bust for the Red Sox.
8:30 p.m. SATURDAY: According to multiple sources, the Red Sox are set to acquire starting pitcher Rich Harden from the Oakland Athletics in exchange for minor league first baseman Lars Anderson and a player to be named later. The trade is not yet official.
Since coming off the disabled list after the All Star Break, Harden has pitched pretty nicely for the A's this year. In five starts, Harden is 2-1 with a 4.30 ERA. Despite the ERA, Harden has been very productive for the A's this year with a 9.2 strikeout per nine ratio and a manageable 1.159 WHIP. Harden also owns a sizeable 3.1 walks per nine innings.
It ultimately came down to four guys for the Red Sox; Ubaldo Jimenez, Hiroki Kuroda, Erik Bedard and Rich Harden. Jimenez, of course is en route to Cleveland after the Indians pulled the trigger that gave up three big prospects. Kuroda pulled himself off the market today as he told the Dodgers he would not waive his no-trade clause. Bedard could have been an option for Boston, but his horrible outing of five earned runs over one and a third innings probably scared them off. Harden looked to be the best available option, and they took it.
For the Red Sox, they now have a guy they can immediately plug in as a fourth or fifth starter when Clay Buchholz returns from the disabled list. Assuming he stays healthy (which has been a problem in the past), Harden is a very cheap and solid acquisition for the Red Sox. With a base salary of just $1.5 million dollars, the Sox won't have to take on too much money in this trade.
As for what they are giving up, it was only a matter of time before the Sox would part with Lars Anderson. The former top prospect never really got it going past AA and wasn't at all in the future plans of the Red Sox. With Adrian Gonzalez now in the fold for seven years, Anderson's chances at starting in the big leagues with Boston decreased by the day. Hopefully he finally gets a chance out in Oakland.
Even with the acquisition of Harden, the Red Sox could still be active on the trade front as we speak. With the needs of a right handed bat off the bench and a lefty out of the bullpen, the Red Sox could very well have a few moves up their sleeve. The Red Sox may make a run at a guy like Matt Thornton of the White Sox as a lefty-specialist out of the bullpen. Also, don't rule out a guy like Reed Johnson from the Cubs as a right-handed bat off the bench. But until 4:00 p.m. Sunday, we shall wait and see.