Tigers to sign Joel Hanrahan
The Tigers have scheduled a conference call with reporters for noon ET, when they’re expected to announce the signing of reliever Joel Hanrahan.
Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com first reported the agreement, which adds late-inning depth to a Detroit bullpen that has been trying to overcome the loss of hard-throwing setup man Bruce Rondon to Tommy John surgery in March.
Hanrahan himself is coming off Tommy John surgery a year ago, which delayed his dealings on the free-agent market this offseason but made him a logical option for Detroit as its relief issues emerged. The 32-year-old right-hander, a former closer in Pittsburgh in 2011 and 2012, pitched in just nine games for the Red Sox last year before undergoing season-ending surgery.
Hanrahan threw for teams a couple weeks ago. The Tigers, normally secretive about its interest in free agents, made little secret about Hanrahan, confirming that they were among the many teams that had a scout in attendance to watch him.
The Tigers bullpen had issues up and down the middle and late innings at different points in April, resulting in a 5.37 team ERA for relievers that ranks 29th out of 30 Major League teams.
Closer Joe Nathan has re-emerged after some early April dead-arm issues, while Joba Chamberlain has stepped in to fill the eighth-inning void left by Rondon’s injury. Beyond that, however, the Tigers have often had to mix and match to get through the late stages with a lead.
The Tigers have avoided wearing down their bullpen arms through a combination of strong starting pitching and a sputtering schedule that has left them with just 23 games played so far this season, the lowest total in the Majors. Al Alburquerque (13) and Chamberlain (23) have both pitched in more than half of those games.
Hanrahan likely fits in for seventh- and eighth-inning setup along with Chamberlain. That would allow Alburquerque, lefty Ian Krol and others to slot into more specialized roles.
Adding Hanrahan bears similarities to the deal the Tigers reached last year with Jose Valverde shortly after last year’s Opening Day. He spent a few weeks in the Tigers farm system on a minor-league contract to get used to game situations before being called up by the end of April.