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.

Phillies’ Bryce Harper to miss start of season after elbow surgery

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PHILADELPHIA – Phillies slugger Bryce Harper will miss the start of the 2023 season after he had reconstructive right elbow surgery.

The operation was performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache in Los Angeles.

Harper is expected to return to Philadelphia’s lineup as the designated hitter by the All-Star break. He could be back in right field by the end of the season, according to the team.

The 30-year-old Harper suffered a small ulnar collateral ligament tear in his elbow in April. He last played right field at Miami on April 16. He had a platelet-rich plasma injection in May and shifted to designated hitter.

Harper met Nov. 14 with ElAttrache, who determined the tear did not heal on its own, necessitating surgery.

Even with the elbow injury, Harper led the Phillies to their first World Series since 2009, where they lost in six games to Houston. He hit .349 with six homers and 13 RBIs in 17 postseason games.

In late June, Harper suffered a broken thumb when he was hit by a pitch and was sidelined for two months. The two-time NL MVP still hit .286 with 18 homers and 65 RBIs for the season.

Harper left Washington and signed a 13-year, $330 million contract with the Phillies in 2019. A seven-time All-Star, Harper has 285 career home runs.

With Harper out, the Phillies could use Nick Castellanos and Kyle Schwarber at designated hitter. J.T. Realmuto also could serve as the DH when he needs a break from his catching duties.