Pirates Flip Closer Hanrahan To Red Sox For Prospects

The Deal
The Red Sox had many problems in 2012, and the bullpen was one of the biggest. Boston ranked 19th in bullpen ERA and 27th in save percentage (61 percent), among other telling statistics. To ameliorate that, Boston executed a six-player trade with the Pirates after Christmas, acquiring righthander Joel Hanrahan along with middle infielder Brock Holt in exchange for righthanders Stolmy Pimentel and Mark Melancon, left fielder/first baseman Jerry Sands and second baseman Ivan De Jesus Jr.
 
Pirates Acquire
Stolmy Pimentel, rhp
Age: 22. Born: Feb. 1, 1990, in San Cristobal, Dominican Republic.
Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 165.
Bats: R. Throws: R.
Career Transactions: Signed as nondrafted free agent by Red Sox, July 2, 2006.

Club (League) Class W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
Portland (EL) AA 6 7 4.59 22 22 0 116 115 66 59 9 42 86 1.36

A growth spurt resulted in extra fastball velocity in 2011 but threw Pimentel’s mechanics and the rest of his game out of sync. He worked to tighten his delivery and throw in a more direct line to the plate last season, which helped add life and deception to his pitches. While he’s capable of reaching 98 mph with his four-seam fastball, he’s learning that he’s more effective when he works with 91-94 mph two-seamers. He generates some weak contact with a cutter/slider hybrid, and he has regained the feel for a quality changeup that he lost in 2011. The next step is for Pimentel to miss more bats and achieve more consistent success. If he can’t, he’ll make the transition from possible No. 3 starter to potential set-up man. —Jim Callis

 
Jerry Sands, lf/1b
Age: 24. Born: Sept. 28, 1987, in Middletown, N.Y.
Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 225.
Bats: R. Throws: R.
School: Catawba (N.C.)
Career Transactions: Selected by Dodgers in 25th round of 2008 draft; signed June 10, 2008 … Traded by Dodgers with RHP Rubby de la Rosa to Red Sox, Oct. 4, 2012, completing deal in which Red Sox traded 1B Adrian Gonzalez, RHP Josh Beckett, OF Carl Crawford, 2B Nick Punto and cash to Dodgers for 1B James Loney, RHP Allen Webster, 2B Ivan De Jesus Jr. and two players to be named (Aug. 25, 2012).

Club (League) Class AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB OBP SLG
Los Angeles (NL) MLB .174 9 23 2 4 2 0 0 1 1 9 0 .208 .261
Albuquerque (PCL) AAA .296 119 452 84 134 17 4 26 107 59 106 1 .375 .524

Sands has hit 90 home runs the last three seasons in the minors, maintaining his power stroke up through Triple-A, as well as in his 2011 big league debut with the Dodgers. The Red Sox acquired the powerful righthanded hitter in the mega-deal that sent Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez to the Dodgers in August. (Technically, he was a player to be named and joined the Red Sox on Oct. 4, so he never played in the Boston system.) Still, scouts aren’t convinced that Sands will maintain his contact ability enough to be a regular corner bat in the majors. He’s strong with plenty of pull power, but he’s struggled against righthanded pitchers as a big leaguer, and Pittburgh’s PNC Park is notoriously tough on righty power hitters. He’s best suited for left field and first base, with solid athleticism for his size, and if it all works out he could be a righthanded version of Pirates corner bat Garrett Jones.

 
Ivan De Jesus Jr., 2b/ss
Age: 25. Born: May 1, 1987, in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico.
Ht.: 5-11. Wt.: 200.
Bats: R. Throws: R.
School: American Military Academy, Guaynabo, P.R.
Career Transactions: Selected by Dodgers in second round of 2005 draft; signed June 19, 2005 … Traded by Dodgers with 1B James Loney, RHP Allen Webster and two players to be named to Red Sox for 1B Adrian Gonzalez, RHP Josh Beckett, OF Carl Crawford, 2B Nick Punto and cash, Aug. 25, 2012; Red Sox acquired RHP Rubby de la Rosa and OF Jerry Sands (Oct. 4, 2012).

Club (League) Class AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB OBP SLG
Los Angeles (NL) MAJ .273 23 33 5 9 3 0 0 4 3 7 1 .324 .364
Albuquerque (PCL) AAA .295 60 224 32 66 12 3 3 33 14 53 1 .333 .415
Pawtucket (IL) AAA .385 7 26 5 10 1 0 0 0 2 3 1 .429 .423
Boston (AL) MLB .000 8 8 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6 0 .000 .000

De Jesus is 25 but still technically a prospect despite spending parts of the last two seasons in the majors. His star has dimmed since his .842 OPS in Double-A back in 2008 thanks to a broken leg that sidelined him in 2009 and cost him a step of speed. He’s lacked the same first-step quickness since then and has settled in as a steady hitter with modest power and speed, a tough profile for a middle infielder. He’s added some outfield duty to his second base and shortstop ability but isn’t a plus defender in any spot. De Jesus has no minor league options remaining, so he can’t be sent to the minors without first being exposed to waivers.

 
Mark Melancon, rhp
Age: 27. Remaining Commitment: Under club control for four seasons, 2013-16 ($521,000 salary in 2012).
Contract details courtesy of Cot’s Baseball Contracts.

Club (League) Year W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
Boston (AL) 2012 0 2 6.20 41 0 1 45 45 31 31 8 12 41 1.27
3-Year Totals 10 6 4.09 134 0 21 141 129 72 64 15 46 129 1.24

Melancon moves on to his fourth team in just four big league seasons, having debuted with the Yankees in 2009. He had his best season with the Astros in 2011 as the closer on a bad team, then had a rough go of it with Bobby Valentine’s 2012 Red Sox. Melancon has plenty of effort in his delivery and works with a fastball at 92-94 mph, plus velocity in general but just about solid-average for a closer. He gets in trouble when he doesn’t locate because neither his slider nor his curveball is a consistent plus pitch, though he does have feel for spin.

 
Red Sox Acquire
Brock Holt, ss/2b
Age: 24. Born: June 11, 1988, in Fort Worth.
Ht.: 5-8. Wt.: 165.
Bats: L. Throws: R.
School: Rice.
Career Transactions: Selected by Pirates in ninth round of 2009 draft; signed June 18, 2009.

Club (League) Class AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB OBP SLG
Altoona (EL) AA .322 102 382 52 123 24 6 2 43 40 51 11 .389 .432
Indianapolis (IL) AAA .432 24 95 13 41 7 0 1 7 9 9 5 .476 .537
Pittsburgh (NL) MLB .292 24 65 6 19 2 1 0 3 4 14 0 .329 .354

Holt was quietly having a nice pro career before breaking through to the big leagues in 2012. He’ a career .317 hitter in the minors, albeit with little home run power or stolen-base efficiency to speak of. Holt played up to his reputation with the Pirates in his 24-game big league debut, hitting a fairly empty .292. It’s cliche, but he is a gamer who makes contact, makes the routine plays defensively at both second and shortstop, and plays hard. He’s a plus runner but hasn’t been an efficient basestealer in the upper minors. For Boston, he’s utility infield insurance.

 
Joel Hanrahan, rhp
Age: 30. Remaining Commitment: Arbitration-eligible for 2013 ($4.1 million salary in 2012).
Contract details courtesy of Cot’s Baseball Contracts.

Club (League) Year W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
Pittsburgh (NL) 2012 5 2 2.72 63 0 36 60 40 18 18 8 36 67 1.27
3-Year Totals 10 7 2.73 205 0 82 198 154 63 60 15 78 228 1.17

The Pirates picked up Hanrahan from the Nationals in June 2009 (sacrificing Nyjer Morgan and Sean Burnett) and watched him blossom into one of the game’s better closers. In two full years as Pittsburgh’s ninth-inning man, he racked up 76 saves while striking out 9.0 batters per nine innings. If you consider 2010 as part of a three-year sample, then Hanrahan’s 10.4 SO/9 stand as the fifth-highest rate among pitchers with at least 50 saves. The Red Sox will control Hanrahan for 2013, after which he can become a free agent. Some of Hanrahan’s key peripherals trended in the wrong direction in 2012, which could portend rough seas ahead. His walk rate rose to 5.4 per nine innings, his groundball rate shrunk to 39 percent and he allowed eight homers in 60 innings.

 

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