WINTER MEETINGS BUZZ
Some buzz inside Pirates circles this afternoon is that the team likely leaves the Winter Meetings in Nashville later this week with closer Joel Hanrahan still on the roster but not because the Pirates are looking to keep him.
The team has discussed Hanrahan with interested teams in recent weeks with the LA Dodgers emerging as a possible suitor but sources indicate right now that the market is not particular strong for Hanrahan. However, things change rapidly at the meetings and the Pirates asking price is not high by any means as GM Neal Huntington is seeking two Major League pieces in return for Hanrahan. Some around the league believe the Pirates are determined to move Hanrahan soon to get out of his likely $7 million a year salary and look to resign Jason Grilli to a 2 year deal, which we mentioned last week. Huntington and Grilli’s agent Gary Sheffield will meet in person this week.
Are the Dodgers the most likely fit for Hanrahan if the Pirates pull the trigger on a deal this winter? One agent told me about an hour ago that a rumor making the rounds in Nashville is Pirates completing a deal with the Dodgers by the end of the week centered around LA sending starting pitcher Chris Capuano and shortstop Dee Gordon to Pittsburgh for Hanrahan and a mid-tier prospect.
Other than the Dodgers, where is the interest in Hanrahan going to come from?
Another NL West team that has liked Hanrahan in the past is the world champion San Francisco Giants and they have a young hitter in Brandon Belt that the Pirates would seek but San Francisco is not expected to be a fit for Hanrahan as the Giants have holes in the outfield and second base and the money won’t be there to spend $7 million on a closer.
Meanwhile, one source says the Pirates would love to get the Washington Nationals involved in talks about Hanrahan this week but serious discussions are unlikely to come to fruition. Nationals GM Mike Rizzo has told others around the league that one of his biggest regrets was trading Hanrahan in 2009 and the Pirates and Nationals briefly discussed Hanrahan early last season. The Nationals do have a slight need for a dominant veteran closer on the backend but many feel Rizzo will let things play out with young guys Tyler Clippard and Drew Storen and see how things go with Storen being the likely closer to open the season. Clippard posted 32 saves and a 3.72 ERA for the Nationals last season, while Storen came back from an elbow injury to record 4 saves and a 2.37 ERA in the regular season. Storen through had a blown save and a 9.00 ERA in the post-season.
The Pirates have long had interest in 25 year old Tyler Moore who hit .263/.327/.513 with 10 home runs and 29 RBIs last season. Moore can play the corner outfield spots and first base. The Nationals have also been dangling 30 year Michael Morse who hit .291 with 18 home runs and 62 RBIs.
PIRATES INTEREST IN JOHN LANNAN?
For the past couple years, two pitchers have been linked to the Pirates in Jeff Francis and John Lannan. Rob Biertempfel of the Trib, reports the Pirates have expressed interest in Lannan and he could be signed for a one year deal in the $3 million range. Lannan made just six starts (4-1, 4.13) ERA for the Nationals and was banished to Triple-A. As Biertempfel points out, Lannan doesn’t get a lot of strikeouts (4/7 K per 9 innings) and gets a lot of contact (9.1 hits per 9 innings). He’s nothing to get excited for.