Joel Hanrahan to begin season on disabled list

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Traded to Pittsburgh along with Lastings Milledge in late June, Joel Hanrahan tossed 31.1 innings with a 1.71 ERA down the stretch and was slated to be the Pirates’ primary setup man this year. Unfortunately the team announced today that he’s expected to begin the season on the disabled list with a strained elbow.
He’s been shut down and is scheduled to be examined next week by Dr. James Andrews, which is often a precursor for even worse news. Hanrahan revealed that his second-half success with the Pirates came despite pitching through frequent elbow discomfort, which apparently resumed last month during a mini-camp mound session.
Even with his strong second half the 28-year-old Hanrahan has a 4.32 ERA and 167/78 K/BB ratio in 150 career innings as a reliever, which is certainly nothing special. However, the Pirates’ lack of quality late-inning options figured to force him into a setup role almost by default. Aside from Octavio Dotel at closer the rest of the bullpen is pretty wide open and the Pirates are long on middle relief-caliber arms.

J.D. Martinez tells teams he prefers an outfield role

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Free agent outfielder/slugger J.D. Martinez is reportedly seeking an outfield gig, says Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald. According to Silverman’s sources, Martinez’s suitors have been informed that the veteran slugger would give preference to teams that can offer a corner outfield spot, rather than a DH-only role.

That could spell trouble for the Red Sox, who appear to be Martinez’s biggest suitors so far this offseason. Outfielders Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi are firmly established at the corners, and prior reports from club president Dave Dombrowski suggest that center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. is not going anywhere anytime soon (thereby eliminating the possibility of reshuffling the outfield). The DH spot is still wide open for Martinez, who doesn’t seem to be totally closed off to the idea, but any full-time or part-time role on the field is likely off the table at this point.

Of course, the Red Sox aren’t the only ones pursuing Martinez’s services this winter. The 30-year-old slugger has been linked to both the Diamondbacks and Giants in weeks past, and while they have the roster flexibility to accommodate his preferences, they’ll need to clear another massive hurdle: the seven-year, $250 million contract he’s said to be seeking. Both clubs will need to get creative to make such a deal work. The Diamondbacks are rumored to be shopping right-hander Zack Greinke in an attempt to free up some room on their payroll for Martinez, while the Giants appear more inclined to scour the trade market for outfield help than shell out cash for another hefty contract in free agency.