PITTSBURGH – The Boston Red Sox are pursuing another burly right-hander to shore up their bullpen.
A person familiar with the talks said the Red Sox and Pirates are close to completing a trade that would send All-Star closer Joel Hanrahan to Boston for a handful of prospects.
Pittsburgh would ship Hanrahan and another player to the Red Sox in exchange for four players, including outfielder-first baseman Jerry Sands and minor league pitcher Stolmy Pimentel. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the trade was pending physicals and had not been finalized.
The deal was reported by several media outlets.
Hanrahan, 31, has been one of baseball’s best closers the last two years, saving a total of 76 games and making the NL All-Star team both seasons. He made $4,135,000 this year and is eligible for arbitration, putting him in line for a hefty raise.
The 6-foot-4, 250-pound Hanrahan and his 96 mph fastball gave the Pirates stability at the back end of the bullpen after he took over the closer’s role full-time in 2011.
Jason Grilli, re-signed by the Pirates this month, would likely step into the closer role next year.
The Red Sox hope Hanrahan will be able to give their beleaguered bullpen an identity. Boston slumped to a 69-93 record in 2012 thanks in part to a bullpen that struggled after closer Jonathan Papelbon left for Philadelphia in free agency. Fill-in Alfredo Aceves went 2-10 with a 5.36 ERA and eight blown saves in 33 chances as the Red Sox finished last in the AL East.
Hanrahan would team with 28-year-old righty Andrew Bailey to give the Red Sox a potent 1-2 punch in the late innings. Bailey was expected to be the closer last season but missed most of the year with an injury. He finished 1-1 with six saves and a 7.04 ERA in 19 games for the Red Sox after spending 2009-11 as the closer in Oakland.
The move could also be a one-year experiment if the Red Sox don’t sign Hanrahan to a new contract. He can become a free agent after the 2013 season.
The Pirates would get a potential slugger in the 25-year-old Sands, who hit .296 with 26 home runs and 107 RBI at Triple-A last season. He came to the Red Sox in a trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers, and his bat and versatility could make Pittsburgh first baseman-outfielder Garrett Jones expendable. The Pirates already have a first baseman in place in Gaby Sanchez, who came over in a trade with the Miami Marlins.
DIAMONDBACKS: Cody Ross and Arizona agreed to a three-year contract with a club option for 2016.
Ross, who turns 32 on Sunday and lives in nearby Scottsdale, adds to the abundance of outfielders on the Arizona roster, leading to speculation a trade may be ahead. He hit .267 with 22 home runs and 81 RBI last season with the Boston Red Sox. He’s a career .262 hitter with 122 home runs and 452 RBI in nine seasons.
The addition gives the Diamondbacks four veteran outfielders — Ross, Justin Upton, Gerardo Parra and Jason Kubel — along with two youngsters the organization has deemed ready for the majors — Adam Eaton and A.J. Pollock.
That would indicate a trade could be in the works, with Kubel the center of that speculation. In his one season with Arizona, the left-handed slugger hit .253 with 30 home runs and 90 RBI. He was hitting .300 on July 22 but batted .176 with 19 RBI the rest of the season.
MARINERS: A person familiar with the negotiations said Raul Ibanez and Seattle have agreed to a $2.75 million, one-year contract.
The deal allows Ibanez to earn an additional $1.25 million in performance bonuses.