The Red Sox have completed a deal with the Pirates that will send Mark Melancon, Jerry Sands, Ivan De Jesus, and Stolmy Pimentel to Pittsburgh for Joel Hanrahan and Brock Holt.
Even now that we know the last two names involved--Holt and De Jesus--this deal still doesn't make much sense at all for the Red Sox.
Joel Hanrahan, for all that he has the reputation of a proven closer, is a relief pitcher with one year of team control left and likely $7 million coming to him, which would put the Red Sox right up against the CBT if they do indeed sign Mike Napoli for $13 million a year. That wouldn't be the worst thing in the world if Hanrahan hadn't just had his worst season in terms of peripherals, putting up a 4.45 FIP/4.28 xFIP thanks to a staggering 5.43 BB/9.
While Hanrahan still managed to strike out 10 batters per nine innings of work, that's a number that could change in a hurry if hitters wise up to his sudden lack of control and start letting him hang himself with balls and walks. Back in 2009, when Hanrahan was last pitching this poorly (4.78 BB/9), he allowed a 4.78 ERA in 64 innings of work. And while the Red Sox say they think they can fix Hanrahan's mechanical issues, hearing that actually makes it worse, since it's clear they knew they were buying a broken product rather than one who maybe just had a noisy year.
That would all be fine if they weren't sending back so much. Mark Melancon alone is pretty much the equivalent of Hanrahan, and probably actually worth more. Even coming off a terrible season, he was actually more impressive than Hanrahan in terms of peripherals, finished strong, and has more team control with a much lower price tag. Add in a lottery ticket in Stolmy Pimentel (albeit a long shot) and an interesting bat like Jerry Sands and those last two names had to be a real win for the Sox to make this worthwhile.
Is Holt more interesting than Ivan De Jesus? It seems so. De Jesus has a .500 OPS in 80 major league plate appearances as a 25-year-old, Holt has a .682 OPS in 72 plate appearances as a 24-year-old. De Jesus has a .759 OPS in eight years in the minors,Holt managed .808 in four seasons down below and put up a very nice 2012 season, hitting .344/.406/.453 between Double-A Altoona and Triple-A Indianapolis.
The problem is that they're both unproven second baseman with little in the way of reputation. Yes, Boston's side of it seems to be better, but not nearly enough to make this an even deal.
Ben Cherington already has a pretty terrible record when it comes to handling the bullpen. Sure, Hanrahan could find his control, Mark Melancon could continue to tailspin, and maybe nothing ever comes of Jerry Sands while Brock Holt makes something of himself. The problem is that the opposite is just as likely to be the case, and if things work out for Boston they get a lot less value in terms of years and dollars.