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Harden Dealt to Red Sox, Lars Anderson and PTBNL Come Back

July 30, 2011

The Oakland Athletics and Boston Red Sox completed a trade this evening that will send Rich Harden to the Boston Red Sox in exchange for Pawtucket first-baseman Lars Anderson and a player to be named later. Harden, who the A’s signed to a $1.5M one-year contract this past offseason was injured most of the season but in his five starts for Oakland this year went 2-1 with a 4.30 ERA, 4.62 FIP while putting up 9.2 K/9, 3.1 BB/9 and allowing 1.8 HR/9. His last start was a no decision on Thursday after the A’s bullpen failed to hold a 5-2 lead against Tampa Bay.

In Anderson the A’s acquire a soon-to-be 25-year old first baseman who at least prior to the 2009 season was listed by Baseball America as the Red Sox’ number one prospect. He has not been listed so favorably since. In 102 games with Triple-A Pawtucket this season, Anderson is hitting .261/.362/.420 with 10 home runs, a .353 wOBA and 118 wRC+. In a scouting report from Sons of Sam Horn Wiki they describe Anderson as follows,

“Tall slugger with a great hitter’s frame, excellent present power, and an elite power ceiling. Extremely smooth and fluid swing. Impeccable batting eye with very good patience at the plate, he actually could stand to be a little more aggressive. Hits especially well to the opposite field, but can also pull the ball on occasion. His swing is tailor-made for Fenway. Still strikes out too much, particularly against off-speed stuff from more advanced pitchers. Has shown a few streaks where he struggles at the plate for weeks at a time, occasionally looking overmatched. Athletic for his size, plays well defensively at first base. Digs throws in the dirt well. Makes some nice diving plays, but still can look awkward at times. Mediocre range. Not a stolen base threat, speed is below average. Takes instruction well and learns fast. Strong work ethic. Intelligent and confident. Likely would have been a supplemental first round pick in 2006 if not for high bonus demands. Spent significant time in left field in high school but has yet to play there professionally, could transition if needed.”

Anderson spent a little time with the Red Sox last year, and in 18 games hit .200/.326/.229 putting up 0.0 WAR in 43 plate appearances. There is no word yet on who the most often traded player in baseball (PTBNL) could be.

The move seems a smart one by the A’s, nothing would have been gained from keeping Harden on the squad through the remainder of the year, and nothing is truly lost by not having his services. Harden is a ticking time bomb for injury so while the Red Sox could get two months (and beyond should they play into the playoffs as it appears they will) of good rotation depth, they could also get one warm up toss and find him done for the year. The decision by the A’s to sign him to a modest contract was a good one and though 0.1 WAR his production was worth only about $600K, once the contract is prorated to reflect the Red Sox assumption of the remainder of his contract, the A’s don’t end up too far behind. As a low-risk, high-reward signing the A’s got about what could have been expected. That said anything Anderson provides in the future can by extension be seen as part of this roughly $1.0M expenditure.

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