Report: Rangers ask Pirates about closer Joel Hanrahan

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The Pirates’ most attractive piece in trade talks is already getting some attention, as the Rangers have asked the team about closer Joel Hanrahan, according to FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal.

Hanrahan fanned 100 batters in 69 2/3 innings for the Pirates last season, but he seemed intimidated in the closer’s role during his first trial in Washington and he was again shaky after Octavio Dotel was traded last year and he was asked to share save chances with Evan Meek.

This year, though, Hanrahan has thrived as a closer, going 13-for-13 in his save opportunities.  His strikeout rate is well down — he’s fanned 16 in 21 2/3 innings — but he’s also cut way back on the walks and he’s allowed just one homer in 21 2/3 innings.

If the Rangers picked up Hanrahan, it would be with the idea of using him as a setup man this year and then potentially making him the closer and moving Neftali Feliz into the rotation next season.  Hanrahan is making just $1.4 million and he’s under control through 2013, so his addition wouldn’t be a problem financially.

Of course, that’s also good reason for the Pirates to keep him.  If Hanrahan spends all year in the closer’s role, he could get a raise to $5 million or so in 2012.  Still, that’s not a major problem for the Pirates, given that they’re not going to spending big on free agents.  Hanrahan will fit well into their budget going forward, and they’re not going to be inclined to trade him this year unless their bowled over.   The Rangers would likely have to start with top shortstop prospect Jurickson Profar and add from there.

Braves sign David Hernandez

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Bill Whitehead of the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports that the Braves have signed reliever David Hernandez to a minor league contract on Sunday. He’ll report to spring training as a non-roster invitee.

Hernandez, who turns 32 years old in May, signed a minor league contract with the Giants in February. He requested and was granted his release on Friday when he learned he wasn’t making the team’s 25-man roster to open the season.

Hernandez pitched for the Phillies last year. He compiled a 3.84 ERA with an 80/32 K/BB ratio in 72 2/3 innings.

Dave Roberts: It “doesn’t make sense” for Scott Kazmir to start year in Dodgers’ rotation

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Scott Kazmir won’t begin the regular season in the Dodgers’ starting rotation. Manager Dave Roberts said after Kazmir’s Cactus League outing on Sunday that it “doesn’t make sense” for the ailing Kazmir to break camp in the rotation, Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times reports. The lefty will instead rehab some more and join the rotation at a later time.

Kazmir has been battling a hip issue which has caused his mechanics to suffer. He was clocked in the low 80’s 10 days ago and wasn’t much better on Sunday afternoon.

Last season with the Dodgers, Kazmir posted a 4.56 ERA with a 134/52 K/BB ratio in 136 1/3 innings, his worst numbers since returning to the majors in 2013.