By Joe Christensen
As of late Sunday night, the Twins had yet to request Cubs pitcher Rich Harden’s medical records, a person close to Harden told the Star Tribune, adding that a deal by today’s noon deadline appeared unlikely.
Harden, 27, has been on the disabled list seven times since 2005, so it would be uncharacteristic for the Twins to trade for him without first examining those medical records.
Then again, in eight starts since July 16, Harden is 3-1 with a 1.80 ERA, so it’s possible the Twins could roll the dice, giving the Cubs the prospects it would take to land Harden for the season’s final five weeks. Harden is a pending Type A free agent, so a team could offer him arbitration after the season and be compensated with two high picks in the 2010 draft if he signed with another team.
Twins officials still haven’t confirmed or denied that they are the team that claimed Harden, as ESPN Chicago reported.
Today, we also will learn whether the Twins placed a claim on Brad Penny, who had to be placed through release waivers before becoming a free agent. That waiver period also expires today, in time for teams to set potential playoff rosters by tonight’s 11 p.m., deadline.
Twins officials have not dismissed the possibility that they would pick up the remainder of Penny’s contract — and likely pay about $1.2 million for six starts — instead of letting Penny hit the open market. From all indications, Penny would prefer to sign with a National League team if he goes unclaimed, so the Twins only chance to get him would be to take on the contract.
Update: Bruce Levine, who had the original report for ESPN Chicago that the Twins are the team that claimed Harden, now reports that the Cubs will hold onto Harden.
Last night, La Velle heard that the Twins were looking at other pitching possibilities, besides Harden and Penny. We’ll be tracking this all day.
Update: SI.com’s Jon Heyman reports that Penny went unclaimed. I assume that means there’s very little chance he ends up with the Twins.
Update: Heyman now reports Penny is signing with the Giants for a pro-rated portion of the minimum salary.