joel hanrahan getty

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.

What’s on Tap: Previewing Thursday’s action

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JUNE 16: Starting pitcher J.A. Happ #33 of the Toronto Blue Jays delivers a pitch in the seventh inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on June 16, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
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Did you know J.A. Happ is in the thick of the American League Cy Young Award race? Of all the contenders, he may be the biggest surprise, even ahead of Drew Pomeranz. Happ leads the league with 17 wins and only has three losses to go with it. He’s holding a 3.05 ERA and a 133/44 K/BB ratio in 150 1/3 innings.

It wasn’t all that long ago that Happ was struggling to stay in a starting rotation. In 2011, his first full season with the Astros, he finished with a 5.35 ERA. In 2012, he put up a 4.79 ERA with the ‘stros and Blue Jays. The next year? 4.56 followed by 4.22, both with the Jays. Then, with the Mariners, he continued the mediocrity with a 4.64 ERA before he was traded to the Pirates.

Under the tutelage of Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage, Happ turned his career around. In 11 starts in Pittsburgh, the lefty had a microscopic 1.85 ERA. That came with significant improvements in his strikeout and walk rates. Even the ERA retrodictors like FIP and xFIP, which had so often agreed with his uninspiring ERA’s, agreed that he had thrown like an elite hurler. So that’s how we arrived at J.A. Happ, Cy Young Award contender.

Among AL starters, Happ is fifth-best in ERA behind Cole Hamels, Jose Quintana, Aaron Sanchez, and Steven Wright. However, his 17-3 record is equaled only by Rick Porcello. As there are still a significant number of voters in the Baseball Writers Association of America who consider won-lost record, Happ is sitting in a good position and will be even better if he can cross the coveted 20-win threshold. He’ll get a bit of a boost as well if he can help the Jays return to the postseason for a second consecutive season.

Happ’s Jays will host the hapless — and Happ-less — Angels on Thursday evening. He’ll take on veteran Jered Weaver in a 7:07 PM EDT start.

The rest of Thursday’s action…

Baltimore Orioles (Ubaldo Jimenez) @ Washington Nationals (Max Scherzer), 7:05 PM EDT

Kansas City Royals (Edinson Volquez) @ Miami Marlins (Tom Koehler), 7:10 PM EDT

New York Mets (Seth Lugo) @ St. Louis Cardinals (Adam Wainwright), 7:15 PM EDT

Cleveland Indians (Josh Tomlin) @ Texas Rangers (Cole Hamels), 8:05 PM EDT

Pittsburgh Pirates (Chad Kuhl) @ Milwaukee Brewers (Wily Peralta), 8:10 PM EDT

Seattle Mariners (James Paxton) @ Chicago White Sox (Anthony Ranaudo), 8:10 PM EDT

Atlanta Braves (Matt Wisler) @ Arizona Diamondbacks (Robbie Ray), 9:40 PM EDT

San Francisco Giants (Matt Moore) @ Los Angeles Dodgers (Ross Stripling), 10:10 PM EDT

Let’s play the “how long has it been since the Cubs won the World Series?” game!

1908 Cubs
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It started with a no-good St. Louis Cardinals fan being a troublemaker. That no-good Cardinals fan was Drew Silva, who began things innocently enough, noting that, despite their dominance this season, any team can theoretically beat the Chicago Cubs in a short series because that’s just how baseball goes:

Cubs fans started giving him guff for that, so Drew gave some back:

And with that it was on like Donkey Kong (a super old video game which was not invented for another 73 years after the Cubs last won the World Series). I tweeted this:

And with that, my followers went crazy. Here’s a sampling of some of the best ones:

And, for that matter . . .

Too soon. Unlike the last Cubs World Series title.

Like I said, this was just a sampling. I’ve retweeted a ton more on my timeline and those I didn’t retweet can be seen in the replies here. My favorite one may have been “literally the invention of sliced bread,” which debuted in 1912, but I can’t find that tweet.

Please, Cubs fans, have a sense of humor about this. You have a wonderful ballpark that is not named after a third tier mortgage company, a grand history that is fantastic even if it hasn’t featured any championships and a future that is as bright or brighter than any other team out there. Maybe even come up with some of your own in the comments! History is fun! As is self-deprecation! What I’m saying is don’t be salty about this sort of thing. Salty is a bad look.

In other news, the Morton Salt Company was incorporated in 1910, two years after the Cubs last World Series victory.