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Cubs Acquire Rich Harden

Hours after claiming "nothing's changed" following the Brewers' acquisition of C.C. Sabathia, Jim Hendry and the Cubs have dealt for Rich Harden. They also receive pitcher Chad Gaudin. The A's get pitcher Sean Gallagher, infielder Eric Patterson, outfielder Matt Murton and minor league catcher Josh Donaldson. That's an awful lot of pitching talent that's entered the division in the past few days.

I love Gallagher, who has a good performance record and gets nice movement on his pitches, and I like Murton better than most, but I still don't understand this deal from the A's perspective. Harden has a very reasonable club option for 2009, and he's obviously dominant when healthy. Gaudin is also a very useful swingman. The only high-upside player the A's got in return was Gallagher, who should be a good mid-rotation starter the next few years. After that, Patterson and Murton look like role players (and that's being generous), and after Donaldson's dreadful season so far in Class A, I'm not even really sure he's much of a prospect. 

What's particularly odd here is that the A's, despite this being a rebuilding year, are still in the playoff hunt. Unless they're dumping salary, or their doctors are near-certain Harden won't stay healthy and it's best to get something for him before his arm falls off (possible, actually), I'm not sure what the A's are doing here. Of course, the A's usually do things for a reason, so maybe the next few months will give us an answer.