Yankees could use their own version of Hanrahan trade


(Joe Sargent/Getty)

After a few days of waiting, the Red Sox and Pirates finally finalized the Joel Hanrahan trade yesterday. The deal sends Hanrahan and infield prospect Brock Holt to Boston for four players: corner outfielder/infielder Jerry Sands, infielder Ivan DeJesus Jr., right-hander Stolmy Pimentel, and former Yankee Mark Melancon. I’m not here to discuss the merits of the trade from either side, but instead the framework.

By acquiring Hanrahan, the Red Sox cleared up some of their 40-man roster clutter. Sands, who I like more than most it seems, was made redundant by Jonny Gomes, Ryan Lavarnway, and Mike Napoli (if that deal ever gets done). Pimentel was once a top pitching prospect who has posted a 5.96 ERA (4.49 FIP) in Double-A over the last two years. He, like Sands, has one minor league option left. Melancon was an out-of-options middle reliever on a team with bullpen depth to spare. DeJesus was the only one of the four players going to Pittsburgh who was not on the 40-man while Holt has all three minor league options remaining.

The Yankees, like the Red Sox prior to the trade, have an awful lot of clutter on the 40-man roster. By clutter I mean youngsters who don’t figure to contribute much in 2013 or just fringy prospects in general. Ramon Flores, Jose Ramirez, and Nik Turley fall into the former category while Zoilo Almonte, Corban Joseph, and even Dellin Betances make up the latter. They’re interesting enough to keep around but hardly high priority guys, kinda like Sands, Melancon, and Pimentel. Given their big league roster needs (starting catcher, right-handed outfield bat, DH, bench), the Yankees are going to have to clear some 40-man spots before Opening Day.

Packaging two or three of those clutter pieces for one big leaguer seems like a wonderful idea in theory, but it’s much more difficult to actually put into practice. For starters, you have to find a team willing to take on several of those players and commit 40-man spots to them. That’s not easy. A rebuilding team isn’t looking to take on fringe prospects just because. Most clubs prioritize quality over quantity these days, even if it means getting back fewer pieces. Turning say, Betances and Joseph and Zoilo into a quality reliever or bench player is more of a pipe dream than anything, but the Red Sox just showed that turning spare parts into a useful player can be done.

Just to be clear, I’m not saying the Yankees missed out by not trading for Hanrahan. He would have helped the bullpen but New York is hardly in need of a $7M late-inning reliever, especially one with walk issues. I do want to see the team follow in Boston’s footsteps by turning some of those spare part guys who just don’t fit into the team’s long-term plans into a player who can help them win this season. These guys are going to start getting designated for assignment and plucked off waivers pretty soon, so it would be nice to get some kind of return before then.


  1. BJ says:

    Agreed. This was a very good trade for Boston. I’m sure Pittsburgh looks at it solely as clearing payroll space, but I think they could have gotten better prospects back.

    • redsoxu571 says:

      I have to strongly disagree that this was simple a payroll dump for Pittsburgh. Color me shocked if Melancon doesn’t outperform Hanrahan next year all by himself (ignoring what the other minor pieces in this deal might do). I think the Red Sox took on salary and gave up three years of RP control, plus lesser pieces, for an inferior reliever. I hope I’m wrong.

  2. Eli Whiteside says:

    Does Melky Mesa and David Adams fall into the clutter catergory too? We seem to have way too man of those guys.

    • Robinson Tilapia says:

      I wouldn’t call them “clutter” just yet, but it’s conceivable they could play their way into that label rather soon if things don’t go well.

    • Ted Nelson says:

      Iwould not put Adams into that category. He was a good prospect who got hirt. He could definitely help this team going forward, in 2013 as a bench player or injury replacement and in 2014 when Youkilis and Cano are both FAs. He could be traded, but is not clutter to me.

      I also wouldn’t put CoJo in that category, myself. Good offensive 2B prospect knocking on the door. Good Cano insurance. I’d move him, but not just to clear a roster spot.

  3. Get Phelps Up says:

    Kinda unrelated, but it’s amazing how bad the Lowrie/Melancon and Reddick/Bailey trades worked out for Boston.

  4. Ed says:

    Sounds like you have pretty much given up on Betances? He was such a prized prospect a couple of years ago. His control problems aren’t fixable?

    • Laz says:

      I’d like to give him another year. He was ranked like 25th overall by some people just a year ago. Sometimes the taller pitchers struggle to get a hang on their command. Just because he has a high ceiling I would rather they hang onto him, rather they move cabral, rapada, or logan, just because having 3 loogys on the 40 man is repetitive, that Logan faces more rhb than he should. Also not high at all on Zoilo/Melky. Sure they are toolsy, but they very unlikely to be anything more than a 4/5th outfielder.

      • Bertin Lefkovic says:

        I agree with hanging on to Betances. I still believe that he can become a big-time pitcher for the Yankees or could be a part of a package that brings back an important player in the future.

        I think that some of these spare parts could be traded for Alfonso Soriano or Vernon Wells, assuming for a moment that the Cubs or Angels are still willing to pay most of their contracts and or take A-Rod’s contract in return.

      • Ted Nelson says:

        While I would also probably hold Betances unless someone was high on him, I don’t think it’s correct to call Cabral a LOOGY. He’s a change-up specialist with, I believe, a reverse split.

        • Laz says:

          Weren’t him and Rapada competing for the Loogy guy, and it was close, til he got injured.

          • Havok9120 says:

            That’s the spot he was competing for, but he had been doing well against righties in camp, which was one reason he was edging out Rapada.

          • Ted Nelson says:

            A lefty RP and a LOOGY are not the same thing, but people use them interchangeably. A whole lot of LHRPs are LOOGYs, but not all.

    • Gonzo says:

      I think the problem with Betances is that I he’s out of options after this year. I think that’s correct.

      Even if he shows improvement this year but still puts up a bad walk rate, what do you do with him next year? I don’t think that’s enough to earn a 25 man roster spot. This is why people think they should move him to the pen this year.

      • Robinson Tilapia says:

        You’ve held on to him this long. You might as well see him through. You win some, you lose some.

        • Gonzo says:

          Or you try to maximize his value from him while you can. Either in a trade or a bullpen move.

          • Robinson Tilapia says:

            I don’t exactly think he’s worth much now. Bullpen was what I had in my mind.

            All I’m saying is that I’m not calling for anyone’s head if we gave a guy with this much potential talent every shot and he wound up walking away as an MiLB free agent. He had his max value when he was most worth keeping, and the team kept him.

            • Gonzo says:

              Absolutely. I’m not calling for anyone’s head. Just weighing options. I think every team has a plan. I just don’t think holding onto a player out of nostalgia or stubbornness is part of the plan. It happens for sure but I don’t think it’s necessarily wise or prudent.

              I don’t think he has trade value, and I think that has to part of weighing Dellin’s future with the Yankees, but I really don’t know if he has trade value either.

              They are at a different point with Dellin than they were when his value was highest, so they should be open to changing their view of him. By the way, a lot of people saw bullpen in his future way back. Some even when his value was highest. So maybe he can do something in the pen.

  5. Jim Is Bored says:

    I think “need” is a pretty strong word.

    If, at best, we’re getting a middle reliever or a utility guy, or another platoon bat, I’m not sure I wouldn’t rather keep what we’ve got in the minors and hope someone figures it out or grows into a role that can fill a 2014/2015 need.

    • Robinson Tilapia says:

      Agreed. It’d be nice to turn some of these guys into something rather than DFA them later. Need, though?

    • jjyank says:

      I agree. Depends on who we’re talking about, of course, but I wouldn’t want to make a trade just for the sake of making a trade.

  6. Andy in Sunny Daytona says:

    So Boston cleared 1 spot, which they would have to open for when the Napoli signing is finalized.

  7. viridiana says:

    Boston — as it often does — trying to change terms of Napoli deal to give them protection in case of injury — perhaps reduce garanteed years. Many free agents have injury issues but Boston has made an art out of announcing deals — then changing terms when their docs “discover” problem. Wish some other team would pounce on Napoli now. The guy has to be pissed.

    • Bertin Lefkovic says:

      I know that the Yankees are trying to save money, but I wonder what it would take to steal Napoli from the Red Sox at this point and if it would cause more harm than good in the long run. I am still pissed that the Yankees did not go after A.J. Pierzynski when they had the chance. Is there any chance that the Twins would trade Joe Mauer and Josh Willingham for A-Rod and a boatload of cash and prospects? Maybe they should bring Jorge Posada out of retirement or make Girardi a player-manager.

    • Andy in Sunny Daytona says:

      Well, they’re going to get John Lackey to pitch for them for $500,000 in 2015, so it works. The players don’t have to sign those stupid contracts.

    • Steve says:

      How pissed can he be? He’s free to sign with another team whenever he’d like. It’s not like the hip is some invention of the Red Sox. It was so bad that the Rangers didn’t even make him a qualifying offer.

  8. The Moral Majority is Neither says:

    If they add a starting catcher then I imagine they’d dump Cervelli or Stewart from the 40-man, and will also eventually have 60-day spots for Pineda and ARod. Not too worried about losing an Eppley or Rapada or Zolio.

    I like Adams, CoJo and Betances needs one more year as a reliever.

  9. Slu says:

    The prospect huggers on this site would go crazy if the Yankees pulled a trade like this. Especially with 2014 coming.

    • Robinson Tilapia says:

      It’d surprise me if some of the names mentioned would raise much of an eyebrow. Brian S. may chain himself to first person named “Almonte” he sees, though. :)

      • The Doctor (formerly known as G formerly known as Matt Smith formerly known as David Tennant formerly known as...etc) says:

        But you just know if they were to give up Corban Joseph or Zolio Almonte, trolls would be all over the fact that they were close to major league ready talent. Never mind that things would really have to go right for them to even be average as everyday players, someone would throw a fit.

        • Ted Nelson says:

          My reaction would entirely depend on the return, but I don’t think much has to go right for CoJo to be a strong offensive 2B.

          • The Doctor (formerly known as G formerly known as Matt Smith formerly known as David Tennant formerly known as...etc) says:

            Depends on your definition of strong. If his 2012 power surge proves to be legitimate and his plate discipline stays a plus in the Majors, I could see him being a slightly above league average offensive player. Given the fact that he plays at second that seems plenty good, but the fact is he’s not at 2nd because he plays it even remotely well, it’s just because he doesn’t have the arm for anything else. He doesn’t run the bases particularly well either, so really he’s just a good offensive player who can do a bit better than fake second. There’s value there sure, but I wouldn’t complain if he were packaged with some other fringe guys for a good bullpen arm and 40 man relied.

            I’m as big a CoJo fan as anyone really, I think he has a great chance to exceed expectations. However, unless they’re planning on moving Cano to 3rd soon or letting him walk, neither of which I see happening for at least a few years (in the case of position change). With no clear opening for him and a bat that isn’t so strong that he’s be out at DH, I’d be all for trading him while he still has value.

            • The Doctor (formerly known as G formerly known as Matt Smith formerly known as David Tennant formerly known as...etc) says:

              40 man relief*

              • The Doctor (formerly known as G formerly known as Matt Smith formerly known as David Tennant formerly known as...etc) says:

                Sorry for the triple post but there’s a lot wrong with the end of that post. Got distracted and went off track when I came back… Sorry hope you can decipher it.

            • Ted Nelson says:

              I think he can be one of the better hitting 2B in baseball, like top 10. There isn’t all that much competition. The offensive fall-off is pretty steep at 2B after the good ones. I know the power surge is the rage with CoJo, but his numbers are in line with those from 2009/10 in terms of being 30%+ above league average. He’s hit at every level.

              I don’t think that’s something you trade in a package for a middle reliever just to clear a roster spot, personally. A starting 2B is very valuable. Most middle relievers are not.


              Scouts are notoriously picky about 2B. Most teams didn’t think Cano could play 2B because of his straight-line speed, and I would guess more top 2B were not top amateurs than at other positions. They used to literally time your straight-line sprint to see if you could play 2B if you were an amateur, wouldn’t be surprised if some still do. That doesn’t have a ton to do with playing 2B or hitting a baseball.

  10. endlessjose says:

    Hideki Matsui retires:(

    He would have made a good DH/PH.

  11. JU says:

    Great ideas in theory, but this is also how you end up giving George Kontos away for Chris Stewart.

  12. Heisenberg says:

    To me, the problem is player development and the speed they move these prospects along..they don’t give these young players a major league audition soon enough..they also can’t keep young arms healthy costing them development time..Guys like Newman and Oppenheimer are very bright but the results show that whoever is drafting these players and managing their development is failing miserably and wasting tons of resources..Every org has injuries but the yanks’ aren’t a coincidence especially with the arms..

    • Ted Nelson says:

      Thanks for passing your speculation off as fact.

      The Yankees routinely have the youngest players at their levels, but let’s make stuff up because they don’t play crappy fringe players!

      • Laz says:

        They also consistently have the lowest draft picks. So is harder to get a good system.

        • Steve says:

          Disagree. Any disadvantage that they had in the draft was negated and then some by the fact that until last year they could spend anything they wanted on IFA. It might be harder going forward, but it certainly wasn’t difficult to get a good system in the past. They just didn’t do a great job of it.

          • Ted Nelson says:

            Based on what? They’re produced a lot of talent over the years. Do you have any actual comparison of their system to others over the years? Or just like to whine?

  13. ClusterDuck says:

    Zoilo and CoJo aren’t going anywhere with the Yanks. I’d be curious to see what we could get for them.

    The others I would not be so fast to trade.

    About the trade Sox/Pirate trade, I believe Holt is better than Sands and of course Hanrahan for the other garbage the Sox gave up is a good deal too for the Sox.

    • Ted Nelson says:

      The Yankees need a RH OF bat this year, and probably will next year too. They may need a new 2B in 2014 as well. Those guys could very nicely fit 2014 needs.

      I don’t know if I would have traded Melancon for one year of Hanrahan. I’m not particularly against it, but I don’t call it a slam dunk at all.

  14. Ted Nelson says:

    It’s certainly an option to consider, but so is keeping these guys to see if one works out. Filling out the bench and bullpen with dirt cheap production can be a key to 2014-5. That doesn’t mean you prospect hug, but it means you don’t move these guys just for the sake of it.

  15. trr says:


  16. The Moral Majority is Neither says:

    CoJo or Adams could be starting for the Yankees in 2014. Wouldn’t call that clutter.

  17. Favrest says:

    This team needs a catcher before anything.

  18. There's the Door says:

    Cherington has now traded for three closers (Bailey and Melancon being the other two). He’s given up Reddick and Lowrie (the latter to get Melancon). He’s like a guy wandering around a casino at three in the morning, convinced that he’s thinking clearly.
    And this is not even to mention the all-DH team he’s putting together as we speak. Or the Youkilis dump, or the Scutaro dump.
    Even if you like the AGon-Crawford-Beckitt sewer-busting megadump — and based on how he’s spending the saved money, you shouldn’t — it would be hard to find a more dreadful ongoing display of general management.
    In the Yankee-Bosox rivalry, Ben is a huge Yankee asset. But enjoy him now. Especially as Theo is being exposed in Chicago, thus destroying Cherington’s “pedigree,” this guy should applying to hotel management school pretty soon, now.

    • Ted Nelson says:

      I don’t like the closer trades, but I think you’re wrong about how he’s spending the money this off-season. I think he’s doing a pretty good job. Getting second-tier guys with no draft compensation at solid value instead of paying through the nose for first-tier guys.

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