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Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Rich Harden, and reliever Aaron Heilman have been claimed on waivers, which opens the door to their possible trade before the waiver deadline expires on Monday, August 31.

A National League team was awarded the claim on Heilman, one source said. The claiming team on Harden is not known, but presumably he did not get through the NL, either. Players must pass through their own league first before being exposed on waivers to teams in the other league. FOX Sports on MSN.

Now, before you get too excited (positive or negative), bear in mind that almost all players are placed on waivers in August in a big, collective “just in case” maneuver.

Further, that a team has claimed each of these guys is no surprise. The claim means a few things: that team, and only that team, can receive the player in a trade; alternatively, once the claim is put in, the claiming team is on the hook for the player if the Cubs decided they didn’t want him anymore. Thus, claiming Harden and Heilman, who are relatively underpaid (well, Harden at least, and Heilman makes chump change), is a fairly low risk proposition.

Harden, who is a free agent after this year, has been dominant of late – he sports a 1.80 ERA since the All-Star break, among the best in baseball. He is expected to get a multi-year deal in the offseason, and likely not from the Cubs. Thus, it would make some sense for the Cubs – assuming they believe themselves out of the playoff hunt – to make a deal for Harden.

HOWEVA (as my favorite Michigan blog, mgoblog says)

Assuming (1) the Cubs aren’t planning to re-sign Harden, and (2) Harden will want a multi-year deal, then the Cubs can offer Rich Harden arbitration at the end of this season, and recoup a couple of high draft picks when he signs elsewhere. Thus, the Cubs would likely ask for FAR more than a team would be willing to trade for but one month of Harden’s service.

Heilman, on the other hand, is unlikely to receive an offer of arbitration from the Cubs, and stands a real shot of being traded.

My question: why was John Grabow either not placed on waivers or not claimed? He is clearly a valuable commodity, and is unlikely to come back next year.

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