Boston’s busy offseason continues today with the acquisition of former Pittsburgh Pirate closer Joel Hanrahan. Although not all aspects of the deal have been formally announced, the trade appears to feature four-for-two swap, with four players departing from Boston and two coming in. It is not yet know who the Red Sox will be acquiring along with Hanrahan.
Two of the four players headed to Pittsburgh are Jerry Sands and Stolmy Pimentel, and neither can be considered a top notch prospect. Sands, 25, has put up excellent offensive numbers in the minors, but so far it hasn’t translated at the big league level after 251 plate appearances, and at 25, he’d need to put it together pretty soon to keep getting chances. Pimentel, 22, is a lanky right-handed starter who has seen his stock drop in recent seasons, and he didn’t do anything to reverse that trend last year in Double-A, where he put up mostly uninspiring numbers (4.59 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 6.7 K/9)
Then again, it’s hard to say that Pittsburgh should have expected that much from Hanrahan, a hard-throwing reliever with undeniable swing-and-miss stuff but an alarming propensity for wildness as well. He’ll be due a raise from last year’s salary of $4.1 million in his final arbitration season, and then he’ll hit the open market in 2014 assuming the Red Sox don’t decide to lock him up first.
Relievers are never a safe bet to put up consistent results from season to season, but Hanrahan is not a bad arm to call on to protect a late game lead. He’s a little too expensive to be considered a steal for Boston here; while fortifying the bullpen is a sound enough plan in theory, it has to be done at a reasonable cost. Until the full details of the trade are disclosed, it’s best to withhold judgment, but as of right now, this deal seems to be a good one for Pittsburgh, who was able to jettison a wild reliever close to free agency for a few prospects with varying degrees of upside.