Harden says he’s staying in Oakland

A deal that was to send A’s right-hander Rich Harden to the Red Sox in exchange for two Minor Leaguers, one that appeared close to being finalized on Saturday evening, is no more.

“I just spoke with [general manager] Billy [Beane], and he says I’m an A and I’m starting Tuesday in Seattle,” Harden said late Saturday after Oakland’s 8-3 win over Minnesota.

Hours earlier, the A’s it seemed were finally entering play in a bustling trade scene, with a Major League source confirming that the two clubs were closing in on a deal. Harden was to join a depleted Red Sox rotation, with the A’s receiving first base prospect Lars Anderson and a player to be named later in return.

“That’s obviously what I had heard too, but I talked to Billy and he said I’m here and not going anywhere,” said Harden, who received premature congratulatory text messages and phone calls from friends.

Though a deal has seemingly fizzled, the A’s have until 1 p.m. PST, when the non-waiver Trade Deadline expires, to make a move.

It’s no secret that the Red Sox have tirelessly been working to add a starter to the mix, and Harden admitted he sees plenty positives in Boston via a contending squad and a familiar face in former A’s pitching coach Curt Young — now in the same position for the Red Sox — but said, “I’m real happy to be here. I love being a part of this organization and pitching here.”

Harden, 29, is no stranger to midseason deals in Oakland. On July 8, 2008, he was traded by the A’s alongside hurler Chad Gaudin to the Cubs for pitcher Sean Gallagher, catcher Josh Donaldson, infielder Eric Patterson and outfielder Matt Murton.

Fast forward to the present, following stints in Chicago and Texas, and Harden is 2-1 with a 4.30 ERA in five starts in his second tour of duty with the A’s, who signed him to a one-year deal worth $1.25 million this offseason. He suffered a strain to his lat muscle on report day in Spring Training and didn’t make his season debut until July 1.

This isn’t the first time a deal between the Red Sox and A’s has fallen apart. In November, 2002, Beane was set to be named general manager of the Red Sox. However, Beane had a change of heart, and that was when Theo Epstein became Boston’s GM.

The A’s, then, could potentially stay quiet through the Trade Deadline. Outfielders Josh Willingham, Coco Crisp and David DeJesus — all free agents at season’s end — were thought to be prime candidates to be dealt, but Beane has said he won’t make a move just to trim payroll. However, more than 12 hours remain before the deadline, and Beane could be seeing offers for such players increase as the market thins. Willingham and Crisp have both been linked to the Braves.

Several A’s relievers, including Grant Balfour and Brad Ziegler, have also been rumored with a multitude of teams looking for bullpen help.

– Jane Lee

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