Red Sox

Red Sox acquire Rich Harden

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Red Sox acquire Rich Harden

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam
CHICAGO -- By early evening, the dominoes were beginning to fall.

Erik Bedard failed his audtion Friday night at Safeco Field. Hiroki Kuroda told the Los Angeles Dodgers that, no, he wouldn't waive his no-trade clause.

And the Colorado Rockies, who had been attempting to play three teams -- the Red Sox, Yankees and Cleveland Indians -- off one another, finally got what they wanted from the Indians.

Time -- and options -- were running out for the Red Sox. So, in a bit of irony, the Sox, whose pitching depth has been thinned by injuries, have a trade in place that will net them Rich Harden - one of the least durable pitchers in the game.

The Sox Saturday night had an agreement in principle with the Oakland A's to get Harden for minor league first baseman Lars Anderson and a player to be named later. Harden must first pass a physical before the deal is made official.

Harden has pitched parts of nine seasons in the big leagues, but only four times has he stayed healthy enough to make more than 20 starts.

He underwent surgery for a torn labrum in 2005; for a partially-torn cartilage in his shoulder in 2009; and has had a laundry list of ailments and injuries before and since.

But the Red Sox' reports on him this season were encouraging and there is the matter of his relationship with current Red Sox pitching coach Curt Young, who worked with Harden for some of his best seasons in Oakland.

Earlier this week, Young described Harden as having "Cy Young-quality" stuff when healthy.

The Sox can now start crossing their fingers.

Of course, this isn't a long-term investment. Harden is a free agent after the year, so there's little in the way of investment (he's being paid 1.5 million, meaning the Sox will assume about 500,000 for the rest of the way) or commitment.

They don't care about his track record or his durability issues in the past. What they need is about dozen starts between now and the end of the regular season, and perhaps a handful more in October.

He's doesn't have the ceiling that Jiminez has, but then again, he didn't cost anywhere near what the Colorado pitcher did. Cleveland gave up a total of four players, including two high-end prospects to get Jimenez.

For the Sox, that would have meant a package involving third baseman Will Middlebrooks and pitcher Anthony Ranaudo. That was too high a price to pay.

As for Bedard, he's been every bit as brittle as Harden, wtihout always being as competitive. And Friday's start in Seattle, in which Bedard showed poor command, was cause for concern.

If Clay Buchholz is indeed sidelined for a while, Harden gives the Sox more options in October. If he pitches well and stays healthy, he may be good enough to start Game 3 of the Division Series.

If he doesn't, then the Sox will have given up little more than a player whose path was blocked -- short- and long-term -- by first baseman Adrian Gonzalez.

Little ventured, then. Health, irony of irony, will determine how much gained.

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

MLB will institute rules to pick up pace, with or without players' agreement

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MLB will institute rules to pick up pace, with or without players' agreement

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Major League Baseball will change rules to speed games next year with or without an agreement with the players' association.

Management proposed last offseason to institute a 20-second pitch clock, allow one trip to the mound by a catcher per pitcher each inning and raise the bottom of the strike zone from just beneath the kneecap to its pre-1996 level at the top of the kneecap. The union didn't agree, and clubs have the right to impose those changes unilaterally for 2018.

Players and MLB have held initial bargaining since summer, and MLB chief legal officer Dan Halem said this week he would like an agreement by mid-January.

"My preferred path is a negotiated agreement with the players, but if we can't get an agreement we are going to have rule changes in 2018 one way or the other," baseball commissioner Rob Manfred said Thursday after a quarterly owners' meeting.

Nine-inning games averaged a record 3 hours, 5 minutes during the regular season and 3:29 during the postseason.

Corey Kluber beats Chris Sale for American League Cy Young

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Corey Kluber beats Chris Sale for American League Cy Young

Max Scherzer heard his name and thrust his arms in the air, shouting and smiling big before turning to kiss his wife.

Corey Kluber, on the other hand, gulped once and blinked.

Two aces, two different styles - and now another Cy Young Award for each.

The animated Scherzer of the Washington Nationals coasted to his third Cy Young, winning Wednesday for the second straight year in the National League. He breezed past Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, drawing 27 of the 30 first-place votes in balloting by members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

Kluber's win was even more of a runaway. The Cleveland Indians ace took 28 first-place votes, easily outpacing Chris Sale of the Boston Red Sox for his second AL Cy Young.

Scherzer yelled "yes!" when his award was announced on MLB Network, a reaction in keeping with his expressive reputation. He showed that intensity often this year, whether he was cursing under his breath like a madman during his delivery or demanding - also with expletives - that manager Dusty Baker leave him in the game.

Just a little different than the pitcher they call "Klubot." Kluber was stoic as ever when announced as the AL winner. He swallowed hard but otherwise didn't react, only showing the hint of a smile moments later when answering questions.

Not that he wasn't thrilled.

"Winning a second one maybe, for me personally, kind of validates the first one," Kluber said.

Scherzer's win moves him into rare company. He's the 10th pitcher with at least three Cy Youngs, and among the other nine, only Kershaw and Roger Clemens aren't in the Hall of Fame.

"That's why I'm drinking a lot of champagne tonight," Scherzer said.

Scherzer earned the NL honor last year with Washington and the 2013 American League prize with Detroit.

"This one is special," he said. "When you start talking about winning three times, I can't even comprehend it at this point."

Scherzer was 16-6 with a career-best 2.51 ERA this year. The 33-year-old righty struck out a league-leading 268 for the NL East champion Nationals, and in an era noted for declining pitcher durability, he eclipsed 200 innings for the fifth straight season. He had to overcome a variety of ailments to get there, and Washington's training staff was high on his thank-you list.

"Everybody had a role in keeping me out on the field," he said. "I'm very thankful for all their hard work."

Kershaw has won three NL Cy Youngs and was the last pitcher to win back-to-back. He was 18-4 with a league-best 2.31 ERA and 202 strikeouts. This is his second runner-up finish. Stephen Strasburg of the Nationals finished third.

Kluber missed a month of the season with back pain and still easily won the AL award over Sale and third-place finisher Luis Severino of the New York Yankees. Kluber led the majors with a 2.25 ERA, and his 18 wins tied for the most in baseball. He added to the Cy Young he won with the Indians in 2014 and is the 19th pitcher to win multiple times.

The 31-year-old Kluber was especially dominant down the stretch, closing out the season by going 11-1 to help Cleveland win the AL Central. He and Minnesota's Ervin Santana tied for the major league lead with five complete games - nobody else had more than two. Kluber also led the majors with 8.0 wins above replacement, per baseball-reference.com.

Kluber and Scherzer both had rough outings in the playoffs. Kluber gave up nine runs over two starts in an AL Division Series against the Yankees, and Scherzer blew a save in the decisive Game 5 of an NL Division Series against the Cubs.

Scherzer said he couldn't even watch the League Championship Series, although he did tune in for the World Series.

"That will eat at me this whole offseason," he said.

Voting for the awards was completed before the postseason began.

The final BBWAA honors will come Thursday when the MVP awards are announced in the AL and NL.

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