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Rich Harden Watch

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The deadline for trading players before the August 31 (today) deadline for postseason roster eligibility is noon. (Not sure what time zone that is, or whether it's "local" time.)

So, we wait to see whether Jim Hendry wants to, or can, make a deal to send Rich Harden to the Twins, who filed a waiver claim on him recently.

The Twins are exactly one game closer to a playoff spot than the Cubs are right now, though they have only one team ahead of them, rather than the four the Cubs would have to leap over to claim a wild-card spot. So, that puts Hendry in a spot himself. Does he pull the trigger on a deal that could net the Cubs a couple of prospects from a team that has a well-regarded organization? Or does he keep Harden, who is 3-1, 1.80 in eight starts since the All-Star break and hope for a miracle, then either re-sign him or offer him arbitration and take the two draft choices he'd get if Harden leaves?

Our old buddy Phil Rogers says Hendry should do it, and adds:

There was a report out of Minneapolis that the Twins wanted a chance to talk to Harden's agents before agreeing to a deal, a potential complication that could kill the trade. They would be taking a risk trading legitimate prospects for a potential five-week rental, but I believe they could get Harden signed before the free-agent signing period in November.

Oh, Phil, Phil, Phil. Silly you. The Twins have an (approximately) $65 million payroll, about half the Cubs' number this year. They're going to, soon, have to sign Joe Mauer to a giant-size contract extension (Mauer's deal expires after 2010), as Mauer, a local product from the Minneapolis area, is the face of the franchise and a MVP candidate. They can't afford to lose him. And you think they can sign Harden, too? Forget it. Harden would be a rental for the Twins. I don't think they'll do it. I believe you'll see Harden starting tonight for the Cubs vs. the Astros.

Oh, don't forget: Aaron Heilman was claimed too, by the Giants. He could be gone by tonight. My guess is that Hendry says, "He's yours."