DETROIT--Friday the Detroit Tigers held a tele-press conference at noon and announced they had agreed to terms with right handed relief pitcher Joel Hanrahan on a one year contract in an effort to bolster a troublesome bullpen.
The Tigers did not confirm numbers, but deal is reported to be be worth $1 million guaranteed, $3 million if unspecified incentives are met.
To make room on the 40-man roster for Hanrahan, the Tigers outrighted the contract of recently signed left-hander Mike Belfiore to Triple-A Toledo.
Tigers President and general manager Dave Dombrowski said the Tigers are going to take their time getting Hanrahan ready as he is only a year removed from Tommy John surgery.
The 32-year-old reliever will start the season on the 15-day disabled list. Hanrahan has been assigned directly to Lakeland where he will continue to progress until the Tigers feel he is ready, which is expected to take 5-8 weeks.
"Coming off Tommy John surgery we need to be very careful, but he's been throwing a lot and throwing quite a bit of bullpen sessions. He's in a position where we think he's close to throwing next week to big league hitters," said Dombrowski.
Dombrowski said the Tigers had been watching Hanrahan for awhile but didn't feel he was ready until they watched him throw a few weeks ago, at which point they began to make the move to sign him.
When asked how Hanrahan ultimately decided to sign with the Tigers, a familiar name came up. "At the beginning of free agency, I had them (Tigers) pinpointed as a place I'd like to play. I had a good recruiter in Torii Hunter. He's a good friend of mine."
Hanrahan said he wasn't surprised by the progress he made last year to get back to throwing again and has already been happy with what he's seen. "I've been a velocity type guy with my breaking ball and right now I feel good," said Hanrahan.
"My arm feels good, my body feels good and I'm able to throw a slider again which I hadn't been able to do for awhile so I'm feeling good and looking forward to the next part of the process."
Hanrahan's agent said that they were not concerned about getting a closing role nailed down. "It's about him going back and performing at a healthy level," said Larry Reynolds. "We felt it didn't matter if he threw seventh or eighth inning, because he's got a great resume." He added that there is always the possibility of pursuing a closing role at a later date.
Hanrahan began his career with the Washington Nationals as a starting pitcher but was converted to a closer with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2009. He later signed with the Boston Red Sox in 2013, however, Hanrahan only pitched in nine games with the Red Sox in 2013 before he underwent Tommy John surgery and missed the entire season.
The Tigers attended a showcase event a couple of weeks ago in which several other teams were in attendance. Among them were the New York Yankees, the Texas Rangers, the Colorado Rockies and Hanrahan's former team, the Boston Red Sox. It was reported that Hanrahan was able to throw as high as 92-93 mph and was in good shape.
Hanrahan is a two-time All-Star reliever and posted a 1.83 ERA in 2011 and a 2.72 ERA in 2012 as a closer while with the Pirates. He recorded 76 saves in 84 opportunities in those two years. The Tigers acquired Hanrahan to bring stability to a shaky bullpen, and he is expected to work in a setup role.
Despite the struggles of the bullpen, the Tigers are the favorites to win the 2014 World Series Championship. Strengthening the one area that has been consistently an issue for the Tigers should help cut down on the late inning dramatics which have become the Tigers' signature of late.
Dombrowski was asked about the constantly looming inquiry concerning signing free agent Stephen Drew but he would not comment in regards to that. Instead he stated that he was very happy with their current solution in shortstop Andrew Romine.