Yankees Trade Rumors: New York Must Deal for Joel Hanrahan to Strengthen Bullpen

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistMay 11, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - APRIL 15:  Pitcher Joel Hanrahan of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitches in the ninth inning against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park on April 15, 2012 in San Francisco, California. In honor of Jackie Robinson Day, all players across Major League Baseball will wear number 42.  The Pirates won the game 4-1. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The New York Yankees haven't been without Mariano Rivera for an extended period of time since he took over the role of closer in 1997, but after suffering a torn ACL, he will be out for the remainder of the season. The Yanks have good replacement options in David Robertson and Rafael Soriano, but the depth at the back end of their bullpen has been severely compromised.

Games used to essentially be six-inning affairs as Soriano, Robertson and Rivera could be counted on to shut the opposition down from there, but now there are only two reliable guys to turn to late in the game, and there is some question as to whether either of them can become a great closer.

One possible solution is a trade for Pittsburgh Pirates closer Joel Hanrahan. According to Blaine Blontz of CallToThePen.com, the Yanks are one of three teams who have been connected to Hanrahan. The Pirates are currently 14-17 and haven't really shown any signs of contending, so it would behoove them to gauge the interest in Hanrahan around the league.

Hanrahan is arbitration eligible next season and the Bucs may not want to deal with that, so they may be best off trading him. He hasn't been at his best so far this season with an ERA of 4.22 and six saves, but he closed out 40 games last year with a 1.83 ERA and is capable of hitting triple digits on the radar gun, so he's a valuable commodity.

Bringing in Hanrahan would give the Yankees two guys with closer experience in Hanrahan and Soriano and a third with closer stuff in Robertson. Hanrahan wouldn't necessarily be the closer of choice for the Yankees, but it would give manager Joe Girardi another option and it would make the late innings much more difficult for the opposition.

No matter what general manager Brian Cashman does on the trade market, he isn't going to replace Rivera. I'm sure he knows that, but it doesn't mean that he can't go out and find somebody to ease the pain of Mo's loss a bit.

New York has had three save opportunities since Rivera went down and none of them have been easy. Robertson converted the first time despite loading the bases, but in his next outing he couldn't hold a 1-0 lead as he allowed four runs to the Tampa Bay Rays. Soriano stepped in the next night with a 5-2 lead, and although he came through, he allowed a run as well.

There is simply nothing certain when it comes to the endgame for the Yankees anymore. Nobody is perfect in the game of baseball, but Rivera was about as close as anyone has ever come. Now the final innings for the Yankees are going to be a struggle just like they are for every other team, but adding another fireballer to the mix would be a big help.

I can't imagine that Hanrahan's price tag would be too high, and since the Yankees have traded with the Pirates so often over the past few years, it's possible that some dialogue has already taken place.

The Yanks aren't in an ideal situation, but Hanrahan would be a great fit at this point.