By Jeff Louderback
Apparently not confident that Andrew Bailey will rebound from his injury-plagued 2012 campaign, the Boston Red Sox are close to acquiring right-handed closer Joel Hanrahan from the Pittsburgh Pirates, according to ESPNBoston.com’s Gordon Edes.
The 31-year-old Hanrahan, who is projected to receive $6.9 million through arbitration in 2013 and can become a free agent next offseason, was 5-2 with a 2.72 ERA and a 1.27 WHIP while earning 36 saves for the Pirates in 2012. He struck out 67 in 59.2 innings, allowing just 40 hits, but his 5.4 walks per nine innings ratio is a concern. In 2011, Hanrahan walked only 2.1 batters per nine innings while logging a 1.83 ERA, a 1.05 WHIP and 40 saves.
It is uncertain who the Red Sox would trade to the Pirates, though CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman Tweeted that shortstop Jose Iglesias is not part of the talks.
Pittsburgh is seeking another starting pitcher. The Red Sox appear willing to trading Franklin Morales or Alfredo Aceves, but they will likely be hesitant to trade Felix Doubront. Since Boston has a full 40-man roster, it could include prospects like Stolmy Pimentel or Drake Britton in the deal to clear space. The Red Sox might also send a reliever to the Pirates.
The addition of Hanrahan would further bolster what is shaping up to be a strong Red Sox bullpen. The club signed veteran right-hander Koji Uehara earlier this month. Junichi Tazawa, who delivered an impressive performance in 2012, will serve as a a key late-inning reliever. Chances are, Morales or Aceves will be traded before spring training. The one who stays will play a prominent bullpen role for the Sox and offer an option for spot starts.
The Red Sox hope that reuniting with John Farrell and returning to a full-time relief role will resurrect Daniel Bard, who suffered through an atrocious 2012 season. Left-handers Craig Breslow and Andrew Miller, and right-handers Mark Melancon and Clayton Mortensen, will also be competing for spots on the Opening Day roster.
If Hanrahan is acquired and Bailey remains with the Red Sox, the club will have six alternatives for a closer. Tazawa is an option, and Uehara, Aceves and Melancon all have closing experience.