Twins sign Harden to minor league contract

MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Twins added yet another starting pitcher Friday, signing veteran right-hander Rich Harden to a minor league contract. The deal includes an invitation to spring training.
 
The 31-year-old Harden did not pitch in 2012 after having season-ending shoulder surgery. He last pitched for Oakland in 2011, going 4-4 with a 5.12 ERA in 15 starts. Seven of his nine years in the majors were spent with Oakland. He also pitched for the Chicago Cubs for part of 2008 and all of 2009 and the Texas Rangers in 2010. His best season was in 2008 when he was a combined 10-2 with a 2.07 ERA in 25 games for the A’s and Cubs.
 
Harden has a career record of 59-38 with a 3.76 ERA, but his highest innings total in any season was 189 2/3 in 2004. Various injuries have limited him throughout his career, as he hasn’t pitched more than 150 innings since 2004.  
 
The signing of Harden means the Twins will have 34 pitchers in camp this spring. Given that Harden’s contract is a minor league deal, the move is a relatively low risk. Minnesota’s main objective this offseason has been to add pitching — particularly starting pitching — and Harden will have a chance to earn a spot on the 25-man roster this spring.
 
Prior to signing Harden, the Twins added three starters to bolster the American League’s worst rotation in 2012. They acquired 25-year-old right-hander Vance Worley in a trade with Philadelphia and signed veteran free agents Kevin Correia and Mike Pelfrey. Those three figure to slide into the rotation along with left-hander Scott Diamond, whom the Twins announced Friday had a bone chip removed from his left elbow earlier this week. Harden has a chance to secure the fifth spot in the rotation.

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