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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.

White Sox reportedly considering Ian Desmond

Ian Desmond
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Many have speculated on a potential match between the White Sox and Ian Desmond this winter, but we haven’t heard much in the way of legitimate interest. That could be changing with spring training right around the corner, as MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reports that Chicago is among the teams considering the free agent shortstop.

After turning the page on Alexei Ramirez this offseason, the White Sox currently have Tyler Saladino in line to serve as their starting shortstop in 2016. The 26-year-old is considered a strong defender, but he batted .225/.267/.335 with four homers over 254 plate appearances as a rookie in 2015. Desmond is coming off a nightmare of a walk year and has seen his strikeout rate climb by 8.5 percent since 2012, but he possesses more offensive upside and it’s not hard to imagine a bounceback campaign while calling U.S. Cellular Field home.

Similar to fellow free agents Yovani Gallardo and Dexter Fowler, Desmond is attached to draft pick compensation after turning down a one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer from the Nationals. It’s a big reason why a potential deal with the Rays is reported to be a “long shot.” Chicago’s No. 10 overall pick in this year’s draft is protected, so they would give up their No. 28 overall pick if they sign a qualifying offer free agent like Desmond.

Pirates sign reliever Eric O’Flaherty

Eric O'Flaherty
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Left-hander Eric O'Flaherty has agreed to a minor-league deal with the Pirates that includes an invitation to spring training.

O’Flaherty was one of the best relievers in the league for the Braves from 2009-2013, posting a combined 1.99 ERA in 249 innings, but Tommy John elbow surgery derailed his career and he struggled for the A’s and Mets in 2015 while dealing with shoulder problems.

It’s tough to know if O’Flaherty is healthy at this point, but the 31-year-old southpaw certainly has a chance to be a nice reclamation project for the Pirates on a no-risk contract.

Mariano Rivera to get his plaque in Monument Park on August 14

Mariano Rivera
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The greatest closer in history is going to get the ultimate honor the New York Yankees bestow on August 14. That’s when Mariano Rivera will get his plaque in Monument Park at Yankee Stadium before a game against the Rays.

There was some chatter in the last year or two about whether the Yankees were somehow lowering their standards out there, what with guys like Tino Martinez getting honored. But if that’s something you care about it won’t matter in this instance. Rivera would’ve been worthy even if the old snobby ways had held and only inner-circle types got a plaque, what with him being a key member of five World Series-winning teams and his status as the all-time saves leader in the regular season and the postseason.

The Yankees retired Rivera’s No. 42 in 2013. He’ll get his plaque in August. Then, on the first ballot for which he is eligible, he’ll be voted into the Hall of Fame, likely with a percentage in the mid-to-high 90s.

Dodgers “trying to trade” Alex Guerrero

Alex Guerrero
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Alex Guerrero is a potentially good right-handed bat without a position to play in Los Angeles, so Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reporting that the Dodgers are “trying to trade” him makes sense.

Guerrero, who signed with the Dodgers out of Cuba for $28 million in October of 2013, spent last season in the majors hitting .233 with 11 homers and a .695 OPS in a part-time role that generated 230 plate appearances. He logged a total of just 355 innings defensively, mostly as a left fielder and third baseman.

Guerrero could be intriguing–particularly to an American League team for whom his defense isn’t much of an issue–because he hit .329 with 15 homers and a 1.113 OPS in 65 games at Triple-A in 2014 and was consistently a .300 hitter with an OPS around 1.000 in Cuba. He’s also 29 years old, so Guerrero is no doubt looking to play regularly.