July 31, 2011
After calling off a deal for Rich Harden(notes) late Saturday night, Boston worked out a three-team trade with the Seattle Mariners and Los Angeles Dodgers that got them left-hander Erik Bedard(notes) and Class AAA reliever Josh Fields(notes).
In exchange, the Mariners received Class AAA outfielder Trayvon Robinson, who is one of the Dodgers' top prospects, along with another outfielder, Chih-Hsien Chiang. The Dodgers received Class AA catcher Tim Fedorowicz, in addition to minor league pitchers Juan Rodriguez and Stephen Fife.
As for Seattle, has a team ever done better in taking a pitcher who just came off the disabled list, lasted only 1 1/3 innings Friday while allowing five runs and four walks, and trading him two days later? Bravo, GM Jack Zduriencik!
It is curious that Boston's front office approved Bedard and his questionable medical history after deciding that Harden's penchant for injury made him too risky to make it through the season.
Bedard has hit the DL eight times in eight seasons with elbow, shoulder, hip, and oblique maladies, though Red Sox are obviously fine with his medicals. Bedard arguably has been more durable than Harden, and at least his recent injury was to his knee, not his pitching arm.
It seems implausible that the Red Sox would ignore the injury history of any player they're considering acquiring. But perhaps with Harden it wasn't simple case of the Boston GM Theo Epstein getting cold feet.
According to the Boston Globe's Peter Abraham, the Red Sox front office and training staff were the ones that raised objections to Harden's medicals, rather than team doctors. That led Abraham to speculate that Boston might have tried to lower Oakland's asking price. Faced with a last-minute change of plans, perhaps A's GM Billy Beane really was the one to pull the plug on the trade instead.
The San Francisco Chronicle's Susan Slusser lends some credence to this theory, as she reported that no one from the A's front office ever confirmed the deal. All of the news was coming from the Boston side, which was feeding the frenzied media coverage surrounding the trade deadline.
There is a lot of competition out there among baseball reporters, especially at the national level, and tremendous pressure to be first with a story. Announcing a Harden/Red Sox deal turned out to be much too hasty.
You could argue that a similar situation applied to the Ubaldo Jimenez(notes) trade. Despite all the reports confirming the trade, it technically wasn't official until Jimenez passed a physical with the Indians. Checking out medically is a formality in most cases. Except when it isn't.
Baseball teams routinely exchange medical records on players when a trade is made. And usually, everything checks out and the deal goes through. In Harden's case, the Red Sox apparently saw enough red flags to squash the trade. They should probably get credit for that. Consequently, proper protocol was followed on Bedard before completing that deal.
As a result, the Red Sox were able to get the starter that their rival New York Yankees did not.
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