Red Sox, Bucs close to deal for Hanrahan
By Evan Drellich / MLB.com | 12/22/12 6:12 PM ET
MLB.com on Bucs-Red Sox deal00:01:53
MLB.com analyst Jim Duquette talks about the potential trade involving Joel Hanrahan between the Red Sox and the Pirates
A deal that sends Pirates closer Joel Hanrahan to the Red Sox was said to be close to done on Saturday evening, with first baseman Jerry Sands and right-hander Stolmy Pimentel part of the package going back to Pittsburgh, baseball sources told MLB.com.
It's unclear if physicals will be needed to finish the deal.
Andrew Bailey was the Red Sox's presumptive closer entering the offseason, although the acquisition of Hanrahan, 31, could serve to create competition, if not insurance.
CBS Sports reported the deal will include six players.
Hanrahan had a 2.72 ERA in 2012 and a 1.83 ERA the year before -- both times earning All-Star selections -- and has tallied 76 saves since 2011. He averages 9.9 strikeouts per nine innings for his career, but he saw his walk rate increase by more than three per nine innings last season, to 5.4. He's arbitration eligible for the final time this year before heading to free agency next winter.
A right-hander from Iowa, Hanrahan has spent all of his six Major League seasons in the National League, with the Nationals and Pirates.
Pirates general manager Neal Huntington recently denied a need to deal Hanrahan because of his projected $7 million salary and post-2013 free agency, yet conceded a deal could happen to "make the team better."
"But we aren't required to do anything," said Huntington, alluding to payroll. "We like our club."
Bailey said at the start of December that he was approaching Spring Training as though the closing job were his.
"I think I have to," Bailey said. "Right now, I'd think I'm the only guy in that role. I feel, like I said, they traded for me for a reason. Last year was very frustrating on a lot of accounts, and even when I was healthy, I didn't do my job to my fullest expectations or the organization's expectations. I'm taking that into my offseason workout, and knowing that I got to hammer down games for this organization and this team, and we got to get to the playoffs."
With Hanrahan in the fold, the Red Sox have upgraded their bullpen this winter with Koji Uehara -- himself a closer at one point -- also in the fold. Lifetime, Hanrahan's held lefties to a .220 average, 30 points lower than right-handed hitters.
The deal leaves the Pirates with a void in the closer's role, though Hanrahan said recently he believed Jason Grilli could handle the job.
"[Grilli] really turned his career around last season, and we made a pretty good eighth-ninth combo," Hanrahan said. "If I'm not there, I'm sure he will be taking over the ninth inning."
Boston needed to clear roster space to officially sign shortstop Stephen Drew and first baseman Mike Napoli -- if a deal does indeed get done with the latter. Closing Napoli's deal has taken more than two weeks so far because of an undisclosed snag in negotiations, possibly related to his health. Sands and Pimentel were both on the 40-man roster.
Sands' time in the Sox organization was short-lived. The 25-year-old came over as part of the blockbuster with the Dodgers last summer and had strong numbers at Triple-A last season, hitting .296 with 26 home runs and 107 RBIs. His OPS was .900 there.
Pimentel, who will be 23 next season, has been in the Red Sox organization since he signed as a non-drafted free agent in July 2006. He started off strong in the Minors, but hasn't been able to get over the hump in Double-A. Last year, though, was an improvement: he lowered his ERA at Portland to 4.59, making 22 starts. He had a 9.12 ERA with Portland in 2011.