Closer Joel Hanrahan is on his way to the Boston Red Sox after the Pirates agreed to trade the two-time All-Star in return for a quartet of young players, according to sources.
The Pirates will acquire outfielder/first baseman Jerry Sands, who has some major-league experience, and minor-league right-handed pitcher Stolmy Pimentel in exchange for Hanrahan.
The Pirates will send an additional player to the Red Sox, but the name of that player and the two others the Pirates will acquire were not available because the deal was not completed.
The potential move comes one day after the Pirates and free-agent pitcher Francisco Liriano agreed to terms on a two-year deal worth a little less than $13 million. That deal allowed the Pirates to explore other returns outside of a starting pitcher -- and made it more likely they would trade Hanrahan and his impending raise.
The trade will not become official until players undergo a physical, likely after Christmas.
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.
Since then, he has recorded 82 saves in 94 opportunities and was named to the National League All-Star team in 2011 and 2012. He was named the Pirates' MVP in 2011 after going 40 for 44 in save opportunities. He was perfect in 26 save opportunities in the first half of the 2011 season.
But Hanrahan was due a hefty raise this offseason, his final year of arbitration eligibility.
He signed a one-year, $4.1 million contract last offseason to avoid arbitration, and his salary likely will increase to about $7 million next year. Hanrahan is 17-21 with 96 saves in six seasons in the majors, 10-8 with a 2.59 ERA in parts of four seasons with the Pirates.
The Pirates signed Jason Grilli, who has been used in the late innings since July 2011, to a two-year, $6.75 million deal recently.
With his high strikeout rate, Grilli likely will enter spring training as the closer.
Sands, 25, is the centerpiece of the deal for the Pirates. He has spent most of his career in the Los Angeles Dodgers minor-league organization, where he hit .289 hitter over five seasons. He appeared in 70 games with the Dodgers, hitting .244 with four home runs.
He was traded to Boston in October to complete the deal that earlier sent Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett and Nick Punto to Los Angeles.
In 2010, he was the sixth-best player in the Dodgers minor league system, according to Baseball America, and was ranked the best power prospect in the Class A Midwest League that year.
But the addition of Sands created more questions for the Pirates, who already had five outfielders on their 40-man roster, one first baseman and one player who plays both.
It is possible the Pirates could look to trade Garrett Jones, a first baseman/outfielder whose value has never been higher after a career year.
Pimentel, 22, spent all 2012 and most of 2011 pitching in Class AA, where he went 6-16 with a 5.96 ERA. He was rated the sixth-best prospect in Boston's system in 2010 and the 23rd-best in 2011, according to Baseball America, which gives him high marks for his changeup.
Pirates scouts have been high on Pimentel since shortly after his pro debut in 2007.