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Former Pirates closer Joel Hanrahan retires

Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

Former Pirates closer Joel Hanrahan has retired following a long string of arm injuries that have kept him out of action since 2013.

"It's not gonna work anymore. I've had a couple of surgeries that were big, extensive, tough surgeries," Hanrahan said on MLB on TuneIn Live. "At this point, I've done three years of rehab on it, and it's come to the conclusion that it's not going to work. So my cleats will be hung up, I believe."

Hanrahan had the best years of his career with the Pirates, posting a 2.59 ERA, 10.4 K/9 and 3.8 BB/9 in parts of four seasons in Pittsburgh. He took over as closer after the Bucs traded Octavio Dotel in 2010, and he held that role until he departed after the 2012 season.

Hanrahan never got to play for a good Pirates team -- he was a transitional figure who arrived a year or so before the Bucs started to become interesting and left right before they got good. The trade that brought him to Pittsburgh, in which he arrived with Lastings Milledge for Sean Burnett and Nyjer Morgan, became a touchstone for conversations about how sabermetric stats should be used. Hanrahan had a 7.71 ERA with the Nationals at the time of the deal, but with a crazy .431 BABIP that the Pirates must have (correctly) anticipated would regress. (Meanwhile, on the other side of the deal, Morgan turned to be a more valuable player than I anticipated at the time, mostly due to his defense, which sabermetrics were just beginning to appreciate.)

There were lessons to be learned from the deal in which Hanrahan left Pittsburgh, too. The Bucs sent Hanrahan and Brock Holt to Boston for a package that included Mark Melancon, who, like Hanrahan when he arrived, had a very bad ERA but good underlying numbers. Melancon promptly emerged as one of the game's best setup men, and then closers. Hanrahan, meanwhile, immediately went down with an arm injury that required Tommy John surgery, and he never did anything after that -- after leaving the Red Sox, he signed on with the Tigers, but could never get healthy. The timing of Hanrahan's injury problems perhaps couldn't have been anticipated, but the trade still served as a good reminder not to hold onto closers too long. As with the Nationals deal, though, the Pirates' trade partners got something good in return, as Holt has had a surprisingly strong career in Boston.