As the Chicago White Sox bullpen continues to make things interesting, should the club pursue signing veteran free agent closer Joel Hanrahan? The Sox would have heavy competition in any bid to sign the hard-throwing righty, but his addition could help to settle the team’s talented but inconsistent bullpen.
Hanrahan is coming back from Tommy John surgery, and it will be interesting to see if he retains his elite fastball velocity. When healthy, he possesses a blazing 96 mph fastball that helped him amass an impressive 10.2 strikeouts per 9 innings between 2008-12 with the Nationals and Pirates. Hanrahan began the 2013 season as the Red Sox closer, after being acquired in an off-season trade for Mark Melancon, but was shelved with his injury after only 7.1 IP.
Adding Hanrahan to the bullpen as a closer would allow Robin Ventura to move everyone else back a step and greatly strengthen the depth of the relief corps, depending on the All-Star’s health. Despite a few options down at Triple-A Charlotte, adding more pieces to the mix of late-inning relievers can never hurt.
However, Hanrahan is 32 years old, and he would probably demand a hefty salary (given the teams rumored to be interested) on a one-year contract to prove his health and effectiveness. Is adding a bullpen arm an appropriate use of resources for a young team that most did not predict to challenge for the postseason in 2014?
The White Sox’ answer to that question will determine whether pursuing Hanrahan is a worthy venture. If the answer is yes, adding Hanrahan makes sense, and GM Rick Hahn should make a run at the coveted hurler.