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Joel Hanrahan Rumors
The Indians had Aaron Harang in spring training this year, but released him due to an out clause in his contract, the Plain Dealer’s Paul Hoynes explains. Since then, Harang has pitched very well for the Braves (despite a nine-run outing against the Marlins earlier this week), and Carlos Carrasco has struggled in the Indians’ rotation. Hoynes argues, however, that Harang is more of an NL pitcher, and that he has benefited from the Braves’ defense, which is much better than Cleveland’s. Here are more notes from the AL Central.
- Rick Porcello‘s improvements this season are legitimate, and it may be time for the Tigers to sign him to a long-term contract if they can, MLB.com’s Jason Beck writes. Through five starts, Porcello has a 5.50 K/BB ratio, thanks largely to a reduction in walks, and he’s getting lots of swings and misses. He’s also due to hit the free-agent market after next season, just before he turns 27. That could make him a valuable commodity indeed.
- The Tigers’ bullpen is “a mess,” which was why Detroit was wise to give Joel Hanrahan a guaranteed deal this week, MLive.com’s James Schmehl writes. The Tigers sent Hanrahan to the disabled list upon signing him, since he’s still recovering from Tommy John surgery, and it’s unclear exactly when he’ll return. If he does, though, and he’s anything like he was in the past, he could help transform the Tigers’ struggling bullpen into a “dangerous” one, Schmehl argues.
More than 20 teams were on hand for Joel Hanrahan‘s April showcase and the former closer reportedly dazzled everyone in attendance. Ostensibly, Hanrahan had a number of opportunities to pick from and earlier today he came to terms on a deal with the Tigers. The 32-year-old came out strong and hit 93 mph on the gun, which is extremely impressive considering that he’s just under one year removed from Tommy John Surgery. On today’s conference call I asked Hanrahan if he was surprised by his fast turnaround.
“No, not really,” the confident veteran said. “I put in the hard work while everyone else was playing this summer. I was going to rehab five times a week at 8:00 in the morning. That was my season. I’ve still got a bit of work to do here. Hopefully when they put a hitter in the box and I get some adrenaline going, the velocity will be there. I’ve always been a velocity type guy with a bit of the breaking ball.”
While Hanrahan is a very notable addition and one that could help fortify a Tigers bullpen that struggled in 2013, there is another notable name that the club has been linked to heavily over the past few months in Stephen Drew. When asked if there could be addition room for another major league free agent this season, Dombrowski said such a move wasn’t in the works but didn’t exactly shut the door.
“Our owner has always been generous but we’re not in a spot to do that necessarily. We’ve made some moves with our club through trades, Andrew Romine has done a good job for us at shortstop, that was one area of need we had…” the GM said. “The area we wanted to address most was our bullpen if we had the opportunity to.”
As for Hanrahan, both the pitcher and Dombrowski emphasized that there will be no clear timetable for his Tigers major league debut. Hanrahan wouldn’t guarantee that he’ll be on the mound for Detroit in the next 30 days and the GM said his minor league warmup will be “sort of a Spring Training,” so it sounds like there’s little, if any, pressure on the reliever to rush himself back. Hanrahan is extremely eager to getting back to what he does best but won’t take any chances to expedite the process.
11:29am: Hanrahan’s base salary is $1MM, and he can earn up to $3MM total after incentives, reports USA Today’s Bob Nightengale (on Twitter).
11:10am: Acknowledging a need for bullpen help, the Tigers announced today that they’ve signed right-hander Joel Hanrahan to a one-year, incentive-laden Major League contract. Hanrahan will begin the season on the disabled list and build up arm strength in the minors before joining the big league club, according to GM Dave Dombrowski. Detroit was one of five teams recently reported to have “strong” interest in the Reynolds Sports Management client.
The 32-year-old Hanrahan is two weeks shy of the one-year anniversary of the Tommy John/flexor mass repair surgery that cost him the majority of the 2013 campaign. Roughly two weeks ago, Hanrahan impressed at a showcase for interested teams that saw upwards of 20 Major League clubs attend. Reports from the showcase said he looked to be in good physical condition and was throwing as hard as 93 mph despite being just 11 months removed from surgery.
A two-time All-Star, Hanrahan posted a 2.59 ERA with 10.4 K/9, 3.8 BB/9 and 82 saves in 229 1/3 innings with the Pirates from 2009-12 before a trade that sent him to Boston last in the 2012-13 offseason. Hanrahan fits the Tigers’ affinity for power arms, as his 96.5 mph average fastball from 2011-13 ranked seventh in the game among qualified relievers.
Detroit’s bullpen took a hit before the season even began, when it was learned that fireballing setup man Bruce Rondon would require Tommy John surgery and miss the 2014 season. That loss and a lack of quality internal options has led the Tigers to a collective 5.37 ERA from their relievers thus far in 2014 — second-worst in the Majors. When he is healthy enough to take the field, Hanrahan will presumably slide into a setup role alongside Joba Chamberlain, Al Alburquerque and Ian Krol to help bridge the gap to closer Joe Nathan.
ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick was the first to connect Hanrahan to a press conference that the Tigers had scheduled (on Twitter). Jon Heyman of CBS Sports first reported the agreement (Twitter link), and Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish added that it’s a Major League deal (Twitter link).
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
WEDNESDAY: The Rockies, Rangers, Red Sox, Yankees and Tigers are among the teams showing strong interest in free agent reliever Joel Hanrahan, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Hanrahan impressed scouts from as many as 20 teams at a showcase two weeks ago, hitting 93 mph on the gun and appearing to be in good shape. The 32-year-old Hanrahan is roughly two weeks shy of the one-year anniversary of his Tommy John surgery.
The teams listed by Heyman have all seen some degree of bullpen struggles with the exception of the Red Sox, whose collective 3.25 bullpen ERA ranks eighth in the Majors. The other four teams are each in the bottom half of the Majors in terms of reliever ERA, with the Tigers (5.48) and Rangers (4.45) displaying the most troubles in run prevention. Each of the clubs mentioned by Heyman has been relatively stable in the ninth inning to this point, meaning that Hanrahan would likely be ticketed for a setup role should he latch on with any of the five.
Recent reports have indicated that the Mets are also interested in Hanrahan, to an extent, but they aren’t sure whether or not they’ll be making him an offer.
The Mets‘ relatively low payroll has left them with the ability to make additions that will boost the payroll on the trade market this summer, GM Sandy Alderson told Tyler Kepner of the New York Times yesterday. “We have the authority to go higher if it’s necessary at the trade deadline,” Alderson told Kepner. “I’m not worried about that at all.” Alderson, who somewhat controversially stated a goal of 90 wins for the Mets prior to the season, said he’s optimistic about his team’s chances, knowing that the rotation can continue to compete and the offense is bound to improve.
Here’s more from the NL East…
- Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. participated in a Q&A with Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News and discussed a host of Phillies-related topics. Asked if he was concerned that every right-hander who opened the season in the bullpen (with the exception of Jonathan Papelbon) had been demoted to Triple-A, Amaro replied: “We’ve already started looking outside with other teams and also with possible free agents. We’ve touched base with a couple of them to see if they’re fits.” Asked if the team had the money to spend on a free agent reliever (i.e. Joel Hanrahan), Amaro said, “If there’s money to spend and we feel it’s something we should do, then we’ll have to address it.”
- Also within that piece, Amaro discussed his lack of production at third base from Cody Asche. Amaro noted that Asche has typically been a slow starter at every level and preached patience in Asche. Of course, if his struggles continue, the Phillies do have top prospect Maikel Franco waiting in the wings. Franco, however, is hitting just .172/.234/.253 in 94 Triple-A plate appearances after his monstrous .339/.363/.563 line at Double-A in 2013.
- FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal writes that there’s too much scrutiny on Bryce Harper, who, at 21 years of age, would be the youngest player on the Nationals‘ Triple-A affiliate and even the youngest on their Double-A affiliate. He praises Nats manager Matt Williams for pulling Harper following a lack of a hustle just two days after a team meeting in which he mandated such behavior. However, Rosenthal questions Williams’ willingness to discuss the situation at length with the media.
- In a blog from earlier this week, ESPN’s Keith Law took a more critical view regarding the Nationals‘ handling of Harper (ESPN Insider required and recommended). Law feels that Williams singled Harper out with his public reprimand, pointing to the fact that veteran Jayson Werth gave a similarly half-hearted effort on a check-swing grounder a day after Harper’s benching and received no public criticism. Law writes that the Nats made a mistake in hiring a manager with zero experience.
- Fangraphs’ Jeff Sullivan analyzes the curious way that pitchers are pitching to Anthony Rendon and wonders why the league hasn’t adjusted to him yet. Rendon, Sullivan writes, has seen more in-zone fastballs than all but two hitters over the past year, and he’s tattooed those pitches accordingly, yet the rate of in-zone fastballs he’s seeing is actually increasing. Sullivan points out that players who see a comparable amount of fastballs are names like Jeff Keppinger and Jamey Carroll, but Rendon possesses significantly more power than either, leading to his great success thus far in 2014.
The Tigers have a clear need for bullpen help but finding relief arms is easier said than done, MLive.com’s Chris Iott writes. Iott’s reasons include the difficulty of making trades this early in the season, the scarcity of quality left-handers and the amount of competition that Detroit could have in signing free agent Joel Hanrahan.
A few more items from around baseball…
- Phil Nevin, the Diamondbacks‘ Triple-A manager, would likely be the choice to replace Kirk Gibson in the Major League dugout if GM Kevin Towers decides a change is necessary, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports. This is only Nevin’s first season in the Arizona organization, though he has ties to Towers from his playing days in San Diego (when Towers was the Padres’ GM). Prior to joining the D’Backs, Nevin managed the Tigers’ Triple-A team from 2011-13 and their Double-A team in 2010.
- John Ryan Murphy has drawn the attention of several opposing scouts and the young catcher could become a sought-after trade chip for the Yankees, John Harper of the New York Daily News reports. “Some team might see him as a guy who could start for them,’’ one scout told Harper. “He’s solid with the bat and behind the plate.’’
- Delaying a prospect’s Super Two service clock “is not a driving factor” behind the Pirates‘ decision to call up a young star, GM Neal Huntington tells Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review in regards to Gregory Polanco‘s continued presence at Triple-A. Huntington said that Polanco is “continuing to refine some of the intricacies of his game” and didn’t give details for fear that opposing teams would use the info against the outfielder (an explanation that Biertempfel doesn’t buy). Polanco currently has a 1.104 OPS in 100 PA at Triple-A this season and his bat would be a big addition to the offensively-challenged Bucs lineup.
Daisuke Matsuzaka picked up his first Major League save last night, though it probably isn’t going to be the start of a new career path for the veteran right-hander. Matsuzaka only got the call since Kyle Farnsworth had pitched in three of the Mets’ previous four games and was being rested, and as Fangraphs’ Paul Swydan points out, Dice-K doesn’t fit the traditional closer profile. Anything is possible given the Mets’ unsettled closing situation, however, so be sure to keep following @CloserNews, MLBTR’s sister Twitter feed, for the very latest on ninth-inning personnel changes.
Here’s some news from Citi Field…
- The Mets still haven’t decided whether or not to pursue free agent reliever Joel Hanrahan, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reports. The team has been weighing its options for several days now since watching Hanrahan throw at a showcase last week. Almost 20 teams watched Hanrahan throw, so the Mets may face competition if they do decide to make the righty an offer, though an evaluator tells Martino that Hanrahan is still roughly a month away from being able to contribute.
- Also from Martino, there still isn’t anything brewing between the Mets and Stephen Drew, as “there is no momentum” between the two sides.
- Matthew Cerrone of Metsblog.com agrees that a Drew signing looks like a major longshot, and the Mets are more likely to promote Wilmer Flores from Triple-A than acquire a shortstop like Drew or the Mariners’ Nick Franklin.
- If the Mets do deal for a shortstop, Cerrone believes the Diamondbacks are New York’s best option as a trade partner. The two clubs at least discussed a trade during Spring Training and scouted each other’s prospects. According to Cerrone, the D’Backs liked right-hander Rafael Montero and catchers Travis d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki, though Plawecki alone wouldn’t have been enough to secure a deal. All three are ranked amongst the Mets’ top prospects by Baseball America, though Montero and d’Arnaud in particular would take major offers for the Mets to consider a trade.
Free agent reliever Joel Hanrahan has fielded “a few” offers from clubs, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com. He is not close to signing, however, adds Cotillo. Hanrahan reportedly drew a large showing to his recent showcase, and looked good as he works to return from Tommy John surgery. Since then we’ve heard that multiple teams are already discussing a contract with him, but the Mets have yet to decide whether they’ll make an offer.
Here are a few more notes on some free agents from around the league…
- Cuban outfielder Daniel Carbonell has been declared a free agent, reports FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal (Twitter links). There is very little public information floating around on the 23-year-old outfielder, though ObstructedView.net rounds up some information suggesting that speed is his calling card. Last October, El Diario De Cuba reported that Carbonell and fellow Serie Nacional player Orlando Perez had defected from the island. Carbonell has enough experience to be considered a professional and therefore wouldn’t count against a team’s international bonus pool as long as he signs by July 2 of this year.
- Brad Penny‘s agents at Millennium tell Cotillo that Penny will throw for multiple clubs in Kansas City this week (Twitter link). Penny requested his release from the Royals early in Spring Training after the club told him that he wasn’t likely to make the team. Penny, 35, last appeared in the Majors in 2012 with the Giants and has a 4.26 ERA in 1899 career innings at the big league level.
- Cotillo also reports (via Twitter) that former Brewers left-hander Zach Braddock worked out for the Dodgers yesterday. Baseball America ranked the control-challenged strikeout artist 13th or higher on Milwaukee’s list of Top 30 prospects each year from 2007-09. Braddock has a career 3.80 ERA in the minors and has averaged a whopping 12 strikeouts per nine innings, but he’s also averaged nearly five walks per nine frames. That same profile has held true in the Majors, where he has a 4.41 ERA with 10.4 K/9 and 5.3 BB/9 in 51 innings. Braddock underwent shoulder surgery to repair his left labrum midway through the 2012 season.
Jeff Todd contributed to this post.
The Mets announced today that they’ve selected the contract of Bobby Abreu, who will join the club as a bench bat and part-time outfielder. New York signed the former Phillies/Yankees slugger to a minor league deal after Philadelphia released him near the end of Spring Training. Abreu slashed .395/.489/.579 with a homer, four doubles and a 7-to-5 K:BB ratio for the Mets’ Triple-A affiliate prior to his promotion. Here’s more on the Amazins…
- ESPNNewYork.com’s Adam Rubin writes that following the departure of Ike Davis in a trade to the Pirates, the Mets’ payroll now sits at an estimated $86.1MM. Rubin’s estimate is based on his discussions with a team official that estimate $4-4.5MM for paying players that are replacing those who are injured (e.g. Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Juan Lagares are both collecting an MLB paycheck at the moment). In a separate piece, Rubin also looks at the rarity of mid-April trades for the Mets and runs own the history of such transactions.
- With Davis out the door, Newsday’s David Lennon opines that Lucas Duda needs to become the cleanup hitter the Mets are looking for instead of being sheltered lower in the lineup. Curtis Granderson, signed for four years and $60MM to fill a run-producing role, was frank with Lennon in stating, “I haven’t given [the fans] much to cheer about.”
- Mike Puma of the New York Post reports that the Mets have not yet decided whether or not they will make a contract offer to free agent closer Joel Hanrahan (Twitter link). Hanrahan reportedly looked very impressive in a showcase last week, and the Mets were one of about 20 teams that had scouts on hand to watch him throw.
The Orioles are in Boston for a wraparound series with the Red Sox culminating tomorrow on Patriots' Day. Mike Seal, the agent for J.J. Hardy is in Boston this weekend, but the Orioles shortstop says it's not for extension talks. "He's here because his wife is running in the marathon, so he came out for this series to watch his wife run," Hardy told reporters, including MASNsports.com's Roch Kubatko. "There's been nothing. My agent's here now and he hasn't said anything to me the last month or so. There's been no contact. Usually, he gives me the 'still nothing.' I think it's even past that now to where it's like, he doesn't even need to tell me."
Elsewhere around baseball this Easter Sunday:
- Tigers President/CEO/General Manager Dave Dombrowski couldn't wait any longer to see if Alex Gonzalez would turn things around, writes Perry A. Farrell of the Detroit Free Press.
- A reader asked John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer (on Twitter) if there's any chance the Reds might go after Gonzalez in light of Zack Cozart's struggles. That's doubtful, in Fay's mind, because Gonzalez doesn't offer much range at the shortstop position. Fay, in a second tweet, also doesn't see the Reds signing Joel Hanrahan.
- In today's column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe speculates, after impressing teams in his latest audition, Hanrahan could hold out for a Major League contract. The veteran worked out for 18 clubs and impressed with the depth of his secondary pitches.
- There's no guarantee Ike Davis will see another 32-home run season with the Pirates; but, if it happens, the Mets will be reminded about it frequently, writes David Lennon of Newsday. However, the Mets finally decided on a course of action rather than have uncertainty at first and they must be prepared to live with the fallout.
- Davis is eager to play more often as a member of the Pirates, writes Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "It was pretty negative over there [with the Mets] for me for a little while," Davis said. "Hopefully, I can come here and hear some positive energy and start building forward and start playing better."
- Did the Indians make a mistake by not keeping Aaron Harang? The veteran pitched seven hitless innings for the Braves on Friday, but Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer defends the Tribe's decision. The 36-year-old, he notes, didn't set the world on fire last season and his release allowed the Indians to see what Carlos Carrasco can offer as a starter.
Zach Links contributed to this post.