The Pirates and Red Sox didn't waste much time after Christmas to get the Joel Hanrahan trade finalized, and the result isn't much different than what we were all speculating about back on December 23rd. We already knew the deal was going to involve Hanrahan going to the Red Sox with Jerry Sands, Stolmy Pimentel, and probably Mark Melancon coming to the Pirates. The teams have announced the trade today, confirming that Melancon is in the trade and that he last two players in the deal are Brock Holt going to the Red Sox and Ivan De Jesus Jr. coming to the Pirates.
Swapping Holt and De Jesus seems like a pretty lateral move for both sides: Holt is a second baseman that probably doesn't have the defensive chops to play shortstop who had some minor league success that mostly came from his ability to hit for a high batting average. De Jesus (a second round pick of the Dodgers in 2005) started out as a shortstop but has mostly moved to second base in the upper minors. In three go-round at Triple-A he's hit .303/.355/.416, mostly with the Dodgers' affiliate in Albuquerque.
Really this trade is going to come down to Hanrahan being swapped for Melancon. Hanrahan's had more recent success as the Pirates' closer, but it's pretty easy to make a case that Hanrahan's had some good luck in Pittsburgh (he had an impossibly low home run rate in 2011 and a very high strand rate in 2012 that kept his ERA down even while he struggled mightily with his control) and Melancon had some back luck in Boston in 2012. Hanrahan's clearly been the better reliever the last couple of years, but given that Melancon won't even hit arbitration until after the 2014 season and that his stuff and some of his peripherals indicate that he can be better than he was in 2012, it seems like a pretty decent gamble for the Pirates to take on this trade.
If you consider De Jesus and Holt to be a wash, pretty much what we have here is Hanrahan for Melancon and Jerry Sands, plus a project in Pimentel. That's not a solid starting pitcher or a starting shortstop, but the time for Hanrahan to bring that in a trade was probably last winter and not this winter. Melancon's a bit of a project, but I see this trade as an attempt to bring in a talented reliever that will be a Pirate for the forseeable future, plus another guy with a decent bat to throw into a corner outfield mix that's full of potential and short on sure things. I think that's probably about the most the Pirates could've expected to get for Hanrahan this winter and while I don't think it's a slam dunk great trade, it seems to me like it's a pretty good one.