Detroit Tigers Sign Reliever Joel Hanrahan


April 13, 2013; Boston, MA USA; Boston Red Sox relief pitcher Joel Hanrahan (52) pitches during the ninth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Joel Hanrahan isn’t quite ready to return to major league game action — indications are that he’ll need another month to get ready — but he announced today via an adorable tweet of his kid and dog in Detroit Tigers hats that he has agreed to terms with the club.

So help is on the way (eventually), but Hanrahan isn’t without his own question marks. He had elbow surgery a year ago and hasn’t yet faced live hitting. Tommy John surgery has a decent success rate these days, but one still can’t count on a pitcher returning and automatically gaining all of his “stuff” and velocity back. Reports are that he’s been hitting 92-93 during his throwing sessions, but he’ll need another month or so of time on the disabled list to rehab and continue to strengthen his arm.

At his peak a couple of seasons ago he was throwing 96-97 and striking out 25+% of the batters he faced. Is that going to be the guy the Tigers are getting here? Probably not. But if he’s anything close to that at all, he’ll be an upgrade over the existing mix. He’s not going to solve all of the team’s relief pitching problems, but overall this looks like a solid signing.

It will be interesting to learn how the incentives are broken out. It’s my understanding that they have to be playing-time based (as opposed to stats-based), so he could be getting bonuses for appearances, innings pitched, or games finished (unlikely since he won’t be closing games).

Hanrahan will hit the 15-day DL for the Tigers immediately, but that means they still need to clear one player from the 40-man roster to open up a spot. A DFA will likely be coming later on. Any guesses who gets the boot?