Former Pirates closer Joel Hanrahan officially is a member of the Boston Red Sox after the teams finalized a six-player trade that will send the two-time All-Star to Boston.
The Pirates sent Hanrahan and infielder Brock Holt to the Red Sox for right-handed pitchers Mark Melancon and Stolmy Pimentel, first baseman/outfielder Jerry Sands and infielder Ivan DeJesus Jr., the teams announced Wednesday.
"We felt like this was a good baseball trade that brings us back guys that we like, guys that can make an immediate impact on our club as well as free up some resources to do some other things," Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said.
Hanrahan, 31, earned $4.1 million this past season and likely will earn $7 million or more in 2013, his final season of arbitration eligibility. The Pirates reached an agreement with left-handed starter Francisco Liriano last week worth $12.75 million, likely sealing Hanrahan's fate.
Hanrahan, 31, joined the Pirates in a 2009 trade that sent pitcher Sean Burnett and outfielder Nyjer Morgan to the Washington Nationals. He became the closer in 2010 after the Pirates traded Octavio Dotel at the trade deadline and had a 2.94 ERA in four seasons with the Pirates.
Hanrahan did not return messages seeking comment, but he thanked Pirates fans on Twitter.
"Thank you to the Pirates and the Pirate fans and city of Pittsburgh for 3+ great years!" he wrote. "I enjoyed every minute of it!!!"
Huntington hopes Melancon, 27, can develop into a strong late-innings reliever, like Hanrahan.
"There's a lot of reminders for us in Mark Melancon of the player that we acquired in Joel Hanrahan," Huntington said. "I'm not saying that Mark's going to become Joel, but sometimes we get caught up in what we've done today and not necessarily take a look in how we've gotten there."
Melancon struggled this past season with the Red Sox, going 0-2 with a 6.20 ERA in 41 appearances. But in his previous three seasons, Melancon had a 3.21 ERA with 20 saves. He is a high strikeout pitcher with years of control, unlike Hanrahan, due to become a free agent after the 2013 season. But the Pirates will turn to veteran Jason Grilli, 36, to be the team's closer in 2013.
"It will be Jason Grilli's job to keep," Huntington said after discussing the issue with manager Clint Hurdle.
The Pirates signed Grilli to a two-year, $6.75 million deal earlier this month.
Holt, 24, made his major league debut in September and provided a spark for the Pirates in an otherwise lackluster month. He hit .292 in 24 games with the Pirates, but most scouts did not see a future for Holt with the Pirates. His defensive ability likely will prevent him from being an everyday shortstop, and the Pirates already have their long-term second baseman in Neil Walker.
"We gave up two very good players in Joel Hanrahan and Brock Holt," Huntington said. "Brock's a very good baseball player -- he's a tough out. ... He was somebody Boston came after, and we reluctantly put him in the deal."
Sands, 25, has spent most of his career in the Los Angeles Dodgers minor league organization, where he hit .289 hitter over five seasons. He has appeared in 70 games in the major leagues, where he has a .244 batting average. He was the Dodgers minor league player of the year in 2010.
Pimentel, 22, spent all 2012 and most of 2011 pitching in Class AA, where he went 6-16 with a 5.96 ERA. DeJesus, 25, is a former second-round draft pick who has a .205 career major league batting average in 48 games. He is the son of former major league shortstop Ivan DeJesus.
DeJesus and Sands were acquired by the Red Sox in a trade that sent Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett and Nick Punto to the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Pirates added Melancon, Sands and Pimentel to the 40-man roster, and designated right-handed pitcher Chad Beck for assignment. The Pirates claimed Beck off waivers in October from Toronto.
Michael Sanserino: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1722 or on Twitter: @msanserino. Bill Brink contributed to this report. First Published December 27, 2012 5:00 AM