News surfaced yesterday that the Red Sox and Pirates were close to agreement on a trade for Pirates’ closer Joel Hanrahan. The deal is allegedly going to be a six-player swap, and so far four players– Jerry Sands, Stolmy Pimentel, possibly Mark Melancon, and Hanrahan– have been announced. General Managers Ben Cherington and Neal Huntington have decided to push future talks until after Christmas, however.
The addition of Hanrahan would add a good arm to a potentially stellar bullpen in 2013. Hanrahan would likely serve as a setup man alongside Koji Uehara or pitch in the closer role should Andrew Bailey get injured or perform unspectacularly. The hard-throwing righty had his second consecutive quality season as the Pirates’ closer in 2012, posting a 2.72 ERA and 36 saves. However, he also struggled with walks (5.43 per nine innings) and benefited from a very low BABIP of .222.
It also can’t be overlooked that Hanrahan would be moving from the NL Central to the AL East. That does not bode well for him, but he does have the stuff to maybe get by. Although “The Hammer” did walk 5.43 per nine innings in 2012, he also struck out 10.11. He wasn’t as good as in his phenomenal 2011 season which saw him post a 1.83 ERA and save 40 ballgames, but he was still more than a serviceable late-inning reliever.
It seems likely that Sands, Pimentel, Melancon, and another player will be going to Pittsburgh in the deal. Hopefully that last player is nobody of huge value, as none of the other three are (with Hanrahan essentially replacing Melancon in the setup role). It’ll also be interesting to see who else the Red Sox get in this trade, too. There has been speculation that it may be Garrett Jones, a first baseman who batted .273/.317/.516 with 27 home runs for Pittsburgh last season and is really coming into his own at the plate. Jones would provide a needed left-handed power bat who could fill a vacancy at first base, allowing the Red Sox to pass up on Mike Napoli.
If the Red Sox do not acquire Jones, however, this move brings up a number of questions. Hanrahan is basically only a one year rental, as he becomes a free agent after 2013 and will command a hefty salary for a reliever in 2013. This makes it all the more important that the Red Sox don’t give up anyone else of tremendous value in the deal. Even if they do slightly overpay for Hanrahan though, which they have been doing with other players this offseason, the Boston bullpen is shaping up awfully nicely for 2013.