The Tigers have agreed to a one year, $1 million minor league contract with right-handed relief pitcher Joel Hanrahan. The contract, first reported by USA Today's Bob Nightengale, includes $2.5 million in incentives. Nightengale's tweets indicate that the incentives are primarily health related, bringing the maximum value of the contract to $3.5 million.
The Tigers signed Hanrahan to a minor league deal in 2014, but he missed the entire season after undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2013. Hanrahan only pitched 7 1/3 innings for the Boston Red Sox that season before succumbing to injury.
Prior to pitching in Boston, Hanrahan made a name for himself as an All-Star closer in Pittsburgh. Hanrahan allowed a 2.59 ERA and 2.98 FIP in 229 1/3 innings across four seasons with the Pirates. He saved 82 games in 94 chances with the Pirates and made the National League All-Star team in 2012 and 2013.
Hanrahan began his MLB career with the Washington Nationals in 2007. He totaled 168 innings in parts of three seasons with the Nationals, allowing a 5.30 ERA and 4.48 FIP. He showed flashes of potential, however, striking out 171 batters in 168 innings. A second round draft pick by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2000, Hanrahan will be 33 years old during the 2015 season.
Friday Tigers president and GM Dave Dombrowski said that he is not hopeful that Hanrahan will be ready for Spring Training. Dombrowski gave a timeline for Hanrahan to begin throwing around Thanksgiving or December 1, and all indications are that he's doing well, but the Tigers aren't expecting anything much from Hanrahan at this point.
"I'm not counting on him per se, I don't think he's of the health perspective that you could say oh he's going to be one of our guys," Dombrowski said. "At this point he's a gamble, he wanted to come back here, we didn't have to give him a guaranteed contract because he felt last year that he didn't come back like he thought he might. We worked on getting it done, he was great on it, but I'm not putting him in and saying he's in our bullpen for sure. I wish I could but I don't think he's at that point."
Hanrahan, who could've signed with any other team for a major league contract, did not speak to any other teams but asked the Tigers if he could remain in the organization. Dombrowski said that Hanrahan felt like he "owed" the team something after taking such a chance on him last season, and with the setbacks in 2014, wanted to repay what the team did for him.
"When we signed him, we thought he would (help the team in 2014)," Dombrowski said. "We actually thought he'd sign probably by the All-Star Game, but he just ended up having some setbacks so we never really got over the Tommy John surgery. Doctor again feels he's OK. We had him checked again to see if he needed another surgery, which he did not. He's more of a chance."