The Giants got their guy today!
You can read about why he’s a great fit for the Giants here.
You can read about the ridiculous contracts the other big time closers will get here (and take a deep breath of relief).
Let’s talk about why this was a shrewd move for the Giants:
- He’s good. Melancon doesn’t fit into the otherworldly echelon of Kenley Jansen and Aroldis Chapman. And that’s just fine, because he’s still very good. For example, his WHIPs the last four seasons: 0.96, 0.87, 0.96, 0.9…that’s less than 1 runner an inning (just to be clear), and those are elite numbers. Brian Wilson, in 2010, had a WHIP of 1.18 which is not bad but it was also EASILY the best # he posted in his career, and it’s well above Melancon’s four-year average. Santiago Casilla’s average WHIP with the Giants was higher than Wilson’s best year, so you get the idea. Much, much fewer baserunners. Melancon’s “low” strikeout rates (for a closer) get some people worried, but it hasn’t been an issue for him to date, and he’s playing in a good ballpark with a good defense for a guy who “struggles” to strikeout guys. (The use of quotes here is to emphasize the fact that he is actually pretty good at striking players out, just not as “good” as Aroldis Chapman, and very few humans in history have been as good as he is).
- They did it relatively quickly. A few days ago MLB and the Players Association agreed to a new CBA, and shortly thereafter the Giants made their move. This is classic Giants: strike quick and get on with it. In a market with three elite closers and more than three teams in need of closer the Giants can now patiently work on improving other parts of the team, negotiating contracts with their current players, and designing Mark Melancon bobble-head dolls.
- They potentially screwed their competition. There are now 2 elite closers left and 3 NL competitors in need of a 9th inning man: the Dodgers, the Nationals, and the Cubs. The Cubs are working from a position of strength. They probably don’t NEED either Jansen or Chapman, certainly not the way the Giants did, but they might like one of them, especially if that means the Dodgers and/or the Nationals whiff on one of those guys. There is a beautiful scenario where the Yankees and (we’ll go with the Blue Jays) get crazy and go for Chapman and Jansen, and suddenly 3 major NL teams will be looking internally, or on the scrap heap, for a closer. The Giants are now officially out of that mess.
- Monetarily, the Giants probably don’t have much flexibility to improve left field, but they do have moves. They can stand pat, go really cheap, or make a trade. They could potentially even dip into the bullpen to make this trade. Remember, the Giants issue in the bullpen is not that they lack options. Their issue last year was that there were too many options, Bochy could never settle on a pecking order, and right when someone started to emerge (i.e. Gearrin/Law) they got hurt. Trading from the bullpen depth could make things simpler for the coaching staff and improve the team over all. The question is who is expendable? My hope is that someone covets Hunter Strickland and is willing to give up a left fielder to see what they can do with him.
I’m all for this move. The money is funny, but that was always going to be the case this offseason and all things being equal, it’s not that bad of a deal in my opinion. Melancon brings order and stability and while he might not be an Andrew Miller super-reliever, he doesn’t need to be. He just needs to get three outs in the ninth inning (IT CAN’T BE THAT HARD RIGHT?!).