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.

White Sox won’t make bid for Bryce Harper

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The White Sox won’t make a bid for free agent outfielder Bryce Harper, Bruce Levine of 670 The Score reports. Believed to be the favorites to land shortstop Manny Machado in free agency, the White Sox watched him ink a 10-year, $300 million contract with the Padres. The club is apparently content with its roster otherwise.

Harper would certainly be an upgrade in the outfield, which currently features Adam Engel, Nicky Delmonico, and Jon Jay. It will soon feature prospects Eloy Jiménez and Luis Robert.

Last season, Harper hit .249/.393/.496 with 34 hom eruns, 100 RBI, 103 runs scored, and 13 stolen bases in 695 plate appearances. He led all of baseball, drawing 130 walks. Harper is also a six-time All-Star who won the 2012 NL Rookie of the Year Award and the 2015 NL Most Valuable Player Award.

The Phillies are still believed to be the favorites to sign Harper and the club is confident it will land him, Matt Breen of the Philadelphia Daily News reports.