The Cubs have to make a decision about picking up Rich Harden's $7 million option for next season today. Based on his performance after coming over from Oakland, it's a no-brainer. Harden may have tired down the stretch and flopped in the NLDS but he had a 1.77 ERA and solidified the Cub rotation in the second half.
Based on his injury history, though, there may be some reservations about locking Harden in at that price because of the late struggles. There was a marked drop in Harden's velocity as the year progressed, even after the Cubs gave him extended rest in September. That's why they're holding off on their decision until Harden sees a shoulder specialist. If he needs arthroscopic surgery, he would likely miss the start of next season although the 25 starts he made this year wouldn't be hard to reach.
That's why, unless doctors find severe structural damage, the Cubs need to pick up his option. If they decline Harden's option he becomes arbitration eligible where he's likely to win a salary of more than $7 million. Harden may have the injury history of a subpar stuntman but he still won 10 games with a 2.07 ERA in 2008. Starting pitchers who can do that are well compensated in these parts. It's good PR to hold off on the decision until you know what you've got but poor fiscal management to do anything but exercise the option.