The Twins announced that they have signed right-hander Rich Harden to a minor league deal with an invite to spring training. The 31-year old Canadian native missed all of 2012 with a right shoulder strain and had rotor cuff surgery on January 31, 2012.
Harden was originally drafted by the Oakland A’s in the 17th round in the 2000 amateur draft and made his big league debut in 2003 as a 21-year old. Harden pitched a career high 189.2 innings in 2004 and has never pitched more than 148 innings an any season since. Harden throws a fastball, splitter, slider, and a change-up and has a 9.2 SO/9 career mark but staying healthy has proven to be Harden’s undoing. Harden pitched for Oakland from 2003 to 2008 before being traded to the Chicago Cubs where he pitched through the 2009 season. Harden signed a FA deal with the Rangers in 2010 but only appeared in 20 games going 5-5 with a 5.58 ERA. Rejoining the A’s in 2011, Harden went 4-4 in 15 games with a 5.12 ERA.
Harden is only 31 but he has been in the big leagues since 2003 and has a 3.76 career ERA in 928.1 innings to go with a 59-38 record. Harden along with a cast of thousands will try to make the Twins 2013 pitching staff but when a team is desperate enough to sign Harden with his medical history, you know that desperate times are at hand. To add to that desperation the Twins announced that their best pitcher in 2012, Scott Diamond has undergone clean-up elbow surgery on his pitching elbow this past Tuesday to take care of some bone chips. The ballclub states that Diamond will be ready for spring training but why would Diamond wait this long to have surgery? I can’t help but think this was another Twins cover-up so that other teams and free agents did not get a whiff of the Twins desperate pitching needs.
The Twins have also announced their list of non-roster invites to spring training and the list is long: Pitchers Nick Blackburn, Deolis Guerra, Alex Meyer, Lester Oliveros, Bryan Augenstein, and Anthony Slama; outfielders Brandon Boggs and Clete Thomas; infielders Jeff Clement, Chris Colabello, Ray Olmedo and Mark Sobolewski; and catchers Kyle Knudson, Danny Lehmann and Dan Rohlfing.
It has been reported that former Twins lefty Francisco Liriano is signing a two-year $13 million deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Good luck to the Pirates and Francisco Liriano.