According to multiple media reports Friday morning, the Tigers have reached a contract agreement with free-agent reliever Joel Hanrahan.
The Tigers reached a contract agreement with free-agent reliever Joel Hanrahan, a two-time All-Star coming off Tommy John surgery.
Winslow Townson / USA TODAY Sports
By DAVE HOGGFOX Sports Detroit
The Tigers are taking a risk to try to to fix their bullpen.
Detroit announced Friday afternoon that they had reached a one-year contract agreement with free-agent reliever Joel Hanrahan.
"We think this is a great gamble, because Joel is an established reliever who has shown he can pitch at the back end of games," team president Dave Dombrowski said in a teleconference.
If Hanrahan were healthy, he would have signed a large deal during the offseason, but he last pitched effectively in the majors with Pittsburgh in 2012. He moved to the Red Sox last season, but posted a 9.82 ERA in nine appearances before being shut down for Tommy John surgery.
The 32-year-old held an open workout in April, drawing the attention of several MLB teams. Rumors had circulated this week that the Yankees, Red Sox, Rangers, Rockies and Tigers were in serious pursuit of Hanrahan's services.
"If you saw the reports, you know that I had numerous offers," he said on the teleconference. "Detroit, though, was a team that I had pinpointed last winter as a place I wanted to be, and I had a great recruiter in Torii Hunter. He's been telling me what a great organization this is, and I'm excited to be here."
Hanrahan, though, won't be joining the bullpen immediately. Upon signing his contract, he was placed on the disabled list and has already reported to Lakeland for extended spring training.
"I never thought I'd say this, but I'm really looking forward to taking groundballs and fielding bunts," he said. "It's going to be great being part of a team again."
If there are no setbacks, he could join the major-league team in early June, although the middle of the month might be more realistic.
"There's no specific timeline here," Dombrowski said. "He's going to start going through spring-training drills in our extended program in Lakeland, and he'll start throwing to live hitters next week. His arm strength is good, but he's got to get in shape, just like every pitcher does in the spring."
Hanrahan spent the first several years of his career as a set-up man in Washington and Pittsburgh, but took over the closer's role with the Pirates in 2011. In the two seasons that he closed, he had 76 saves, posted a 2.24 ERA and averaged a strikeout per inning. In both seasons, he was named to the National League All-Star team.
If Hanrahan can approach anything close to that level of performance, he would slot in perfectly as the eighth-inning man for Joe Nathan. That would allow manager Brad Ausmus to use Joba Chamberlain and Al Alburquerque earlier in games, which would go a long way toward stabilizing a bullpen that currently has a 5.37 ERA (29th in the majors).
If his arm stands up to the workload in Lakeland, the Tigers might be breathing a lot easier in the late innings by Independence Day.
In a corresponding move, the contract of lefthanded pitcher Mike Belfiore has been outrighted to Triple A Toledo.