A’s Notes: Harden Deal, Willingham, & More!


The A’s officially announced that Rich Harden is back with the team, and will compete for a starting role in the rotation. If Harden, 29, fails to win out a the fifth and final spot in a rotation that already includes the likes of Brett Anderson, Trevor Cahill, Gio Gonzalez, and Dallas Braden, then he’ll most likely work out of the bullpen. The A’s also signed Brandon McCarthy, who will probably represent the biggest competitor for Harden.

Harden appeared in 20 games for Texas in 2010, and went 5-5 with a 5.58 ERA in 92.0 innings. Having come up in the A’s organization, Harden should feel right at home in the Coliseum. He last pitched for the A’s in 2008 before getting traded before the deadline to the Chicago Cubs. In 13 starts that year for Oakland, Harden went 5-1 with a 2.34 ERA with 92 strikeouts in 77 innings pitched. He finished up the 2008 campaign with Chicago, going 5-1 with the Cubbies with a 1.77 ERA in 12 starts.

Harden’s injury history shouldn’t be that much of a problem going forward for the A’s, since he’s signed to a $1.5 million contract. That’s not a huge commitment on the A’s part, and there’s really no added pressure on Harden now that the A’s already have one of baseball’s top young rotations. But if Harden’s healthy and able to start in the rotation, Oakland may boast a rotation that’s on par with San Francisco’s.

In other news, Nathaniel Stoltz, a Columnist for Call To The Pen, notes that the A’s recent acquisition of OF Josh Willingham was a good one. I concur with Nathaniel on this one. The A’s get a pretty decent outfielder in exchange for pitcher Henry Rodriguez and outfielder Corey Brown. Willingham, who will probably start this year in Oakland’s very crowded outfield, hit .268/.389/.459 in 2010 for the Nationals. He belted 16 homers and drove in 56 runs in 114 games.

Willingham will join an A’s outfield that is set to include starters Coco Crisp, David DeJesus, and bench players Ryan Sweeney, and Connor Jackson. The A’s outfield was not a strength by any means this past season, as no one in the A’s outfield hit more than Crisp’s 8 home runs in 2010. When you think right-field, or about outfielders in general, you tend to picture big strong power hitters. That was not the case for Oakland’s group.

The A’s have made plenty of moves this offseason, but they’re not done yet. The A’s are probably going to make a few more deals, and I wouldn’t be shocked if Adrian Beltre’s name gets attached to Oakland’s, especially since he’s still on the open market.