Will Rich Harden Be Back in 2012?


The Oakland Athletics didn’t take a big gamble in bringing Rich Harden back to the bay area this offseason for a one-year deal worth $1.5 million. Oakland knew about Harden’s injury-plagued past, but the team brought him in to add depth to the pitching staff. For those of you who didn’t really pay too much attention to the team this year, Harden was sidelined for much of the first half due to injury.

Some fans will probably say that Harden hasn’t really done that much this year to deserve an offer to come back to Oakland next season, but I’m probably in the minority when I say that the A’s should at least consider bringing back the right-hander next year.

At 29, Harden will probably live out the rest of his professional career by signing one-year deals with clubs willing to take a chance on him. I don’t see him getting a long-term deal any time soon, especially since he’s got a lengthy medical record. The A’s, however, should explore all options with Harden, who has said before in the past that he likes pitching in Oakland. He’s got a nice relationship with pitching coach Ron Romanick, and so it does make sense for Harden to continue his career with Oakland.

Whether or not Oakland is interested in Harden has yet to be seen. This season, while not great, has been an improvement over last season’s totals for Harden. In 2010, Harden compiled a 5-5 record and a 5.58 ERA in 92.0 innings (18 starts) for the Texas Rangers. He battled through various injuries and various trips to the disabled-list in ’10, and his numbers did take a hit. His K/9 rate was down to 7.34 after being at 10.92 in 2009 with the Chicago Cubs.

So far this season, Harden, aside from the early injury suffered in spring training, hasn’t had many set-backs. He made his seasonal debut on July 1st against the visiting Arizona Diamondbacks. Since then, he’s made all of his last twelve scheduled starts without any hiccups. He’s compiled a 4-3 record with a 4.73 ERA in 73.2 innings (13 starts), and has put together a nice 10.14 K/9 rate (83 K’s in 73.2 IP). Overall, the A’s shouldn’t be too disappointed with Harden’s performance this season, and should (and I think they will) at least consider bringing Harden back for another round next year.

What do you think? Has Harden performed well enough to come back next year?