Call it what you will, but the fallout of the Jim Johnson decision is sure to have a ripple effect in the bullpen of the Oakland Athletics. Still considered to be an upper tier collection of relievers, respected roles are much less structured than the were at the onset of the season as a “closer by committee” lead by Sean Doolittle and Luke Gregerson has been placed into effect.
With that being said, pitching is always a valuable commodity and the Athletics have emphasized bullpen depth since the conclusion of 2013. Perhaps cognizant of a lack of major league ready relief help aside from Evan Scribner and perhaps Joe Savery at Triple-A Sacramento, the Athletics are believed to hold interest in free agent Joel Hanrahan according to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com.
— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) April 11, 2014
Recovering from Tommy John surgery, the 32-year old held a showcase for scouts on Thursday in an attempt to entice interest after being clocked at 93 MPH last month during a bullpen session. Only 11-months removed from the operation. the former All-Star opened 2013 as the closer for the Boston Red Sox before surrendering eight earned runs on ten hits in just 7 1/3 innings pitched before being lost to Tommy John surgery as well as separate procedures to repair a flexor tendon and remove bone chips.
The right-hander saved 76 games as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates from 2011-2012, averaging 96.5 MPH on his four-seam fastball which ranked seventh amongst qualified relievers from 2011-13. Relying on a biting slider and change-up to offset his power arm, Hanrahan experienced considerable success holding opposing hitters to a .240/.328/.376 mark over the course of his career.
While Oakland interest in Hanrahan should not be interpreted as a complete loss of confidence in Jim Johnson, perhaps the Athletics are simply entertaining the opportunity of acquiring a reliever with a proven track record to serve as yet another security net if Johnson is unable to reclaim his post.