Despite a healthy Andrew Bailey—who missed majority of the 2012 season due to injury—and the recent acquisition of Koji Uehara, the Boston Red Sox are still looking to add to their bullpen for next season.
The Dodgers are showing interest in Pirates closer Joel Harahan, but they have little company. The Red Sox are said to have interest as well. The Pirates are willing to consider trading Hanrahan, as they have re-signed Jason Grilli, who could close.
Since being traded to the Pirates at the July trade deadline in 2009, Hanrahan hasn’t been the most consistent of relievers. He only appeared in 33 games for the remainder of that season, but has appeared in 205 games over the last three seasons. He was able to lower his ERA considerably after he was moved to closer in 2011—when he saved 40 games—but it jumped back up this past season.
Despite his inconsistent numbers, the price for Hanrahan is expected to be high, according to Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe:
The Pirates are looking for a starting pitcher, and the Sox would possibly give up Franklin Morales or Alfredo Aceves. The Pirates may be thinking more along the lines of Felix Doubront, which would be a deal-breaker, according to the major league source.
One of Boston’s biggest problems last season was its starting rotation and how inconsistent they were. Doubront was one of the brightest of the bunch, and although he was only a middle-of-the-rotation starter, he’s someone that the Red Sox can’t afford to give up—especially for a relief pitcher.
The Red Sox just filled a void at the end of their rotation with Ryan Dempster, signing him to a two-year, $26.5 million deal. By trading Doubront to Pittsburgh, Boston would likely have to pay even more to land another free agent starter to fill the newly created void.
Trading away either Morales or Aceves wouldn’t be as big of a deal. Neither is expected to begin the season in the starting rotation, but they could both fill in if an injury was to pop up or a regular starter needed a day off. But for the most part, they are relievers and not starters.
Last offseason, the Red Sox traded several players to the Oakland Athletics in exchange for Bailey. Bailey’s thumb injury allowed him to pitch in just 19 games last season, but he should go into next season as the closer. Boston should also have Uehara, Mark Melancon, Junichi Tazawa, Daniel Bard, and either Aceves or Morales, or both, among others before him.
The bullpen is not an area where the Red Sox need to be putting a lot of focus on right now. Trading a No. 3 or a No. 4 starter for a reliever right now is only going to create more problems in Boston.