This article from a few weeks back becomes relevant as the Rays’ free agent options for closers are completely dried up. The Pirates are blessed with two very good end game relievers: Joel Hanrahan and former Devil Rays prospect Evan Meek. Both could close, and both have closed. But, heading into 2011, Pirates management wants to make a quick decision on the situtation.
We have talked in generalities of choosing one or the other for those specific roles. We have talked in generalities of using both. Clint and I need to spend some more time, in the future, talking about this because I know both guys, Evan and Joel, are hungry to pitch.”
Huntington solidified one thing, though.
“This is not something that we have to answer right now, but this is something that we want to have an answer to before spring training,” he said. We won’t have a competition for the closer … during spring training. Whoever is our closer, is our closer.”
It would be wonderful if the Rays could help the Pirates make that decision easier by taking one of the pitchers in a trade, and that duo, along with the Royals’ Joakim Soria seem to be the most logical trade targets for the Rays if they were to trade for a closer.
Soria would be the clear cut choice for the team but his attainability might be the toughest since the club reportedly turned down the Yankees’ offer of uber-prospect Jesus Montero for Soria some time during the 2010 season. The addition of either Hanrahan or Meek would put that pitcher as the clear favorite to close on the Rays but the addition of impact relievers via trade in February and March has historically been a very dry market.
Here are the relievers that have been acquired via trade during those months in recent years:
- Dana Eveland (2010) – no impact
- Michael Wuertz (2009) – monster season for Athletics worth 2.4 fWAR
- Dustin Nippert (2008) – negligible impact on Rangers
- Jason Bulger (2006) – no impact
- Casey Fossum (2005) – started in the pen for Devil Rays, moved to rotation in May; worth 1.7 fWAR
- Jorge Sosa (2005) – Similar role as Fossum for the Braves; worth 1.1 fWAR
That’s not a very rich list over the past six seasons outside of Wuertz. Here is the work of the two Pirates over the past three seasons compared to what Wuertz has done in that same time frame.
The Rays can continue to explore the open market but recent history is against them finding something of significant value over these next two months to help in the bullpen. Most of the arms traded this time of year are the pitchers that are out of options and cannot be sent down to minor league camp. If it were a matter of costs, the pitcher would have already been traded as was the case with Rafael Soriano and the Braves last season.