Pirates agree to trade Joel Hanrahan to the Red Sox

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UPDATE, SUNDAY: The Pirates will also get right-handed reliever Mark Melancon from the Red Sox, according to Bowden. Heyman says there’s “still some discussion” about the remaining players involved so negotiations may run past Christmas.

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SATURDAY, 5:02 PM: Heyman reports that it’s a six-player deal, with four going to Pittsburgh and two going to Boston.

4:55 PM: Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports that the Pirates are sending another player to Boston along with Hanrahan. Meanwhile, Michael Sanserino of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette hears that the Pirates will get more than two players in return.

4:32 PM: Bowden reports that the deal has been agreed upon. It’s not clear if other players are involved.

4:27 PM: Bowden hears that the Pirates will get Jerry Sands and prospect right-hander Stolmy Pimentel in the proposed deal.

Pimentel, who turns 23 in February, has a 4.37 ERA over six seasons in the minors. He posted a 4.59 ERA and 86/42 K/BB ratio over 115 2/3 innings with Double-A Portland this past season. Baseball America ranked him as the organization’s No. 6 prospect prior to the 2011 season, but his star has faded a bit since.

3:44 PM: Jim Bowden of ESPN.com and MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM reports that the Pirates would acquire Jerry Sands as part of the return for Hanrahan. CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman was the first to mention that Sands could be involved.

Sands was acquired as a player to be named later in the August blockbuster trade with the Dodgers. The 25-year-old has posted some big numbers in the minors, particularly in the Pacific Coast League over the last two seasons, but he owns a .244/.325/.376 batting line over 251 plate appearances in the big leagues. A right-handed hitter with pop, he might fit best as a platoon player at first base or in the outfield. If acquired, the Pirates would have quite the logjam.

2:05 PM: There has been speculation that prospect infielder Jose Iglesias might go to Pittsburgh in the deal, but Jon Heyman of CBS Sports hears that he’s not involved in talks.

1:31 PM: After shopping closer Joel Hanrahan for most of the winter, it appears the Pirates have finally found a match.

According to Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston, the Red Sox are moving toward acquiring Hanrahan from the Pirates. It’s not a done deal yet, as one official told Edes that there’s “still work to be done.” It’s not known who the Pirates would get in return.

Hanrahan has saved 76 games over the past two seasons and would offer some insurance for Andrew Bailey, who has been injury-prone during his career and missed most of last season following thumb surgery. The 31-year-old right-hander earned $4.1 million in 2012 and is due a big raise in arbitration this winter. He can become a free agent following the 2013 season.

If the Pirates trade Hanrahan, Jason Grilli will likely take over as closer next season. He recently signed a two-year, $6.75 million contract in order to stay with Pittsburgh.

Astros push ALCS to Game 7 with 7-1 stunner against Yankees

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There’s just something about playing in your home ballpark. The Astros decimated the Yankees at Minute Maid Park on Friday, riding seven scoreless innings from Justin Verlander and a pair of big runs from Jose Altuve to win 7-1 and force a Game 7 in the American League Championship Series.

Through the first four innings, however, the teams looked equally matched. Luis Severino no-hit the Astros through 3 2/3 innings, losing his bid on Carlos Correa‘s line drive single in the fourth. The Astros returned in the fifth to do some real damage, drawing two walks and plating the first run of the night with Brian McCann‘s ground-rule double off of the right field wall. Things didn’t get any easier for Severino. Jose Altuve lined a two-RBI base hit into left field, upping Houston’s advantage to three runs.

Verlander, meanwhile, muted the Yankees’ offense with seven innings of five-hit, eight-strikeout ball. While he didn’t come close to matching his complete game effort in Game 2, he was still plenty dominant against a struggling New York lineup. No player reached past first base until the sixth inning, when a pair of base hits from Chase Headley and Didi Gregorius gave the Yankees their first runner in scoring position. That didn’t last long, though, as Gary Sanchez grounded out on a 3-0 slider to end the inning.

In the seventh, Houston’s ace got into another spot of trouble. He walked Greg Bird on six pitches to start the inning, then plunked Starlin Castro on the wrist. Aaron Hicks struck out, in part thanks to a questionable call by home plate umpire Jim Reynolds, but it was Todd Frazier who presented the biggest threat after returning an 0-1 fastball for a 403-foot fly out to left field. Luckily for Verlander, George Springer was there to bail him out with a leaping catch at the wall.

The Yankees kept things exciting in the eighth, too. Aaron Judge ripped his third postseason home run off of Brad Peacock, taking a 425-footer out to the train in left field to spoil the Astros’ shutout. That was the only real break the Yankees got, however, as Altuve, Alex Bregman and Evan Gattis returned in the bottom of the inning to tack on another four runs, including Altuve’s solo shot off of David Robertson:

Ken Giles handled the ninth, expending 23 pitches and giving up a base hit and a walk before retiring Frazier and Headley to end the game. Thanks to Houston’s winning efforts, the two teams will compete in their first seven-game Championship Series since 2004 — and this time, at least one of them is guaranteed to come away with a win.

Game 7 of the ALCS is set for Saturday at 8:00 PM ET. Houston right-hander Charlie Morton (14-7, 3.62 ERA) is scheduled to face southpaw CC Sabathia (14-5, 3.69 ERA).