Dodgers Trade Rumors: Is Joel Hanrahan or Chris Perez Top Fit in L.A.?

Ian CasselberryMLB Lead WriterDecember 20, 2012

Joel Hanrahan notched 36 saves for the Pirates this year.
Joel Hanrahan notched 36 saves for the Pirates this year.Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

With seven starting pitchers currently on their roster, the Los Angeles Dodgers have some trade pieces they can use to help out other parts of the team. 

For instance, the bullpen.

The Dodgers appear to be in good shape with their late-inning relief corps. Brandon League is slated to be the closer, with Kenley Jansen and Ronald Belisario penciled in as setup men. However, it appears that general manager Ned Colletti is of the belief that a bullpen can never have enough good arms. 

According to CBS Sports' Jon Heyman, the Dodgers have shown interest in Pittsburgh Pirates closer Joel Hanrahan. The 31-year-old reliever has one more season of arbitration eligibility and the Pirates apparently don't want to pay what he'll earn through that process. MLB Trade Rumors' Matt Swartz projects Hanrahan to earn $6.9 million next year. 

That's pretty expensive for a setup reliever. Mike Adams just signed a two-year, $12 million contract with the Philadelphia Phillies (via ESPN), and that seems pricey for a reliever who's not going to be the closer. 

But perhaps the Dodgers like the idea of Hanrahan providing some insurance as a backup closer. (Although if the team has such questions about League, it's curious that he was given a $22.5 million contract.) 

If Chris Capuano ended up being traded for Hanrahan, their salaries would match up. Capuano is set to be paid $6 million next season in the second and final year of his contract. If the Pirates decline his option for 2014, they'll pay Capuano a $1 million buyout. 

However, that would also be the case if the Dodgers made a deal with the Cleveland Indians for Chris Perez. Heyman reported that the Tribe's closer is also on their radar.

Perez also has one more year of arbitration eligibility and would cost approximately the same price as Hanrahan. Swartz projects him for a slightly higher salary of $7.2 million in 2013.

The two relievers seem rather similar. Hanrahan compiled a 2.72 ERA and 36 saves in 63 appearances for the Pirates this season. He also struck out an average of 10.1 batters per nine innings. In 61 games with the Indians, Perez had a 3.59 ERA and 39 saves while averaging 9.2 K's per nine. 

Yet Hanrahan had a problem with walks this year, averaging 5.4 every nine innings (the second-highest rate of his career). His 36 walks were also the second-most he's issued in his six major league seasons, which contributed to an alarmingly high 4.45 FIP (fielding independent pitching) figure.

Perez walked fewer batters this year, averaging a career-low 2.5 per nine frames, and His 3.34 FIP was actually better than his ERA. At 27 years old, he's also four years younger than Hanrahan. If the Dodgers are seeking a longer-term option for their bullpen, that could be an important consideration. 

Another concern for the Dodgers with Perez could be a team-chemistry issue. Perez caused some waves this season in Cleveland with his outspokenness. In early September, he complained to Fox Sports' Jon Paul Morosi that the Indians' ownership wasn't spending enough money on players.

Earlier in the season, Perez criticized Cleveland fans for not coming out to support what was then a first-place team in the AL Central. Months later, he got into a verbal mix-up with a fan in Oakland and the profanity-filled exchange was caught on video

After the Indians fired manager Manny Acta, Perez hit him with the door on the way out. He ripped Acta for not being more confrontational with players and giving the silent treatment instead. Perez also seemed to blame Acta for the Tribe's 5-24 record in August, saying the "panic button" was pushed too many times.

Is that something the Dodgers want to deal with?

If Perez made so many headlines with the Cleveland press, what might happen when he encounters the L.A. media horde? Could he and the Los Angeles Times' T.J. Simers be in the same room? (That could actually be kind of fun.)

Would Perez be happier with a playoff contender and thus less angry and critical? That kind of personality might be more acceptable from a closer. Ninth-inning guys are generally more fiery and eccentric, but setup guys who rock the boat might not be as accepted.

However, if Perez wants to play for an ownership that spends money, the high-rolling Guggenheim Baseball Management group should suit him just fine. 

Team chemistry might not be a big concern in Chavez Ravine, though. If it was, the Dodgers probably wouldn't have caused some late-season upheaval by taking on four players from the Boston Red Sox at the end of August.

Getting Adrian Gonzalez and Josh Beckett for their run at an NL wild-card spot made the Dodgers a more talented team, but trying to fit in new players so late in the season could have been disruptive. 

Clearly, Colletti and the Dodgers ownership care more about adding talent than whether or not someone is a good fit in the clubhouse. They might view Perez as someone who would benefit from the ol' change of scenery, as Hanley Ramirez did after he was acquired before the July 31 trade deadline.

If the Dodgers prefer someone who might be more amenable to a setup role, makes less noise with the media off the field and is familiar with National League competition, Hanrahan is probably the way to go. 

But if the team is seeking a bit more upside and willing to take the risk that a brash personality might be a spark plug for a relatively laid-back collection of players, Perez is the better choice for the Dodgers. 

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