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.

The Red Sox to designate Hanley Ramirez for assignment

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The Boston Red Sox plan to activate Dustin Pedroia from the disabled list today. That’s a big deal. The move they’re making to make room for him on the roster is a big one too: they plan to designate Hanley Ramirez for assignment.

The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier first reported the impending transaction. He was told by a major league source that Ramirez was informed this morning he’ll be moved off the roster. A designation for assignment, of course, means that the Sox have seven days to either trade or release Ramirez.

Ramirez, 34, is experiencing his worst season as a major leaguer thus far, hitting .254/.313/.395 (88 OPS+) in 195 plate appearances as he split time between first base and designated hitter. Given how well Mitch Moreland has hit at first and J.D. Martinez has hit at DH, there is simply no room for Ramirez in the lineup.

Ramirez, a 14-year big league veteran, won the 2006 Rookie of the Year Award and won the NL batting title in 2009. He has been a below average hitter in three of his last four seasons, however, and long removed from his days as a middle infielder, he has little defensive value these days. That said, his fame and the possibility that he could put together a decent run if used wisely will likely get him some looks from other clubs.