It's only April 15th, but two contenders have already seen their closers go down to injuries. The Boston Red Sox lost Andrew Bailey for four months, while the San Francisco Giants just lost Brian Wilson for the year due to an elbow injury.
The Red Sox are currently going with Alfredo Aceves, while the Giants have Sergio Romo leading their options. Romo was one of the most dominant relievers last year, and wouldn't be a bad choice as a closer. In fact, if Wilson wasn't on the Giants, Romo probably would have been the top closing option, based on his 2011 results.
If either team looks for an early season trade for a closer, the Pirates should try to step in to the talks. Joel Hanrahan has one more year of arbitration following the 2012 season. He was one of the top closers in the league last year, but hasn't had any chances for saves this year.
It's early in the season, and the Pirates will definitely need a closer throughout the year. However, they also need to focus on the long term...
Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.