The Red Sox and the Pittsburgh Pirates may not complete their multiplayer deal before Christmas, sources from both teams indicated on Sunday, but the trade does not appear to be in jeopardy.
“Just the nature of the time of the year,” one of the sources said. “It’s hard to complete something so close to Christmas, but progress is being made.”
The featured piece is Pirates closer Joel Hanrahan, who will likely become Boston’s closer, supplanting Andrew Bailey. Hanrahan has a great slider and has saved 40 and 36 games the last two seasons for the Pirates. The 31-year-old righthander had his best season in 2011 (68⅔ innings, 1.83 ERA, 16 walks), experiencing control issues in 2012 (59⅔ innings, 2.72 ERA, 36 walks).
The names that appear to be going back to Pittsburgh are outfielder/first baseman Jerry Sands, who was acquired in the Red Sox-Dodgers blockbuster deal Aug. 25, and Stolmy Pimentel, whose projected rise has stalled the last couple of years but at 22 years old still has a world of potential.
The Sox and Pirates have also talked about including established relievers Mark Melancon or Franklin Morales, with the Sox also getting a player back from the Pirates.
Once the Hanrahan deal has been completed, it would appear the only area left for the Sox to address would be a backup first baseman/outfielder, preferably one that hits lefthanded.
The Sox have been able to fill a few needs and doing so with the philosophy that they don’t want long-term contracts and don’t want to give up draft picks.
The Sox signed left fielder Jonny Gomes, who likely will be a righthanded platoon with the lefthanded-hitting Ryan Kalish. They agreed to terms with first baseman/catcher Mike Napoli and continue to work out a contract snag involving language that would protect the team in case Napoli has a hip injury that forces him to miss time. The Sox discovered Napoli had a hip problem through an MRI.
They also signed backup catcher David Ross to solidify their defense. They turned to Shane Victorino to help their right field defense and add speed in the lineup.
They signed righthander Ryan Dempster to add a veteran presence, innings-eater, and maturity to a staff that has often needed someone who can lead by example. Yet Dempster has been known to be a cut-up in the clubhouse.
The Sox added veteran shortstop Stephen Drew for one year to be a bridge to shortstop prospect Xander Bogaerts.
In most cases, Sox general manager Ben Cherington went out and got underperforming players who will play 2013 with something to prove. Cherington has tried to change the character of the team while protecting draft picks, which are more precious now under the new basic agreement that restricts money spent on picks. That’s why the team was not a huge player for slugger Josh Hamilton or right fielder/first baseman Nick Swisher, who agreed to sign up with the Indians on Sunday.
The Sox have tried to stay away from those big-ticket items, but have overspent to get the players they feel fit the model they’re trying to build.Nick Cafardo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @nickcafardo.