Monday, December 5, 2016
Hot Stove Update: Giants Sign Mark Melancon
Leading up to the Winter Meetings, the Giants had one huge priority. They had to come away with a frontline closer! Anything less would have been a major psychological setback. There were 3 frontline closer available on the FA market: Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen and Mark Melancon. You might count Wade Davis as being a frontline closer available on the trade market, but the Giants could not afford to waste precious time on trade talks and risk coming up empty. Chapman and Jansen have more dominant stuff and more dominant strikeout numbers than Melancon, but there are a whole host of reasons why getting either of them was a longshot. Again, rather than waste time chasing Chapman and Jansen while some other team made off with Melancon, the Giants focused on him like a laser beam from the minute the Hot Stove was lit. They brought him to SF they made no effort to hide that he was their guy. They came to the Winter Meetings and closed the deal on day 1.
It wasn't fancy. It wasn't brilliant from a wheel and deal perspective. There were probably more imaginative ways the Giants could have solve their closer problem. A GM like Billy Beane would almost certainly have not gone this route. On the other hand, there is something to be said for understanding what your needs are, setting your priorities and then getting the deal done. That type of focused efficiency and decisiveness is what has characterized the Bobby Evans era as GM. He pulled if off again.
So yeah. Mark Melancon was the guy the Giants had to get. Yes, he's expensive at 4 yrs/$62 M. Yes there is risk here. No, the Giants had no other reasonable option. There were plenty of "second tier" options out there, but all came with significant question marks. After last season's bullpen debacle, the Giants could not afford a question mark in the closer role. They had to fill with a no-doubter. That was going to cost a lot of money. The Giants probably got the best deal out of the big 3.
The contract is structured similarly to Johnny Cueto with an opt out after two years. Like Cueto, if you add in the signing bonus money, the contracts are frontloaded for the first 2 seasons making it more likely the player will choose to opt out. I get the feeling that in both cases, the Giants are actually hoping they opt out after the 2 years so they are not stuck with the more risky back-end of the contracts, but that remains to be seen.
As for the rest of the Winter Meetings and Hot Stove League, the Giants are now in a position where they can be on the lookout for ways to improve the team, but don't have to do anything. Evans has already said he probably will not be signing any more RP's except maybe a minor league deal or two. As for LF, if the Giants feel they need a veteran with a track record in LF, I'm OK with that. They know more about player evaluation than I do. I'll just say as a fan, if they stand pat and go with Mac Williamson and/or Jarrett Parker, I'm more than OK with it. They have backup plans already in place as Eduardo Nunez could play LF with Conor Gillaspie taking over at 3B if they had to. Austin Slater should be ready by midseason. Steven Duggar might be. They can also make a midseason trade if they have to.
The Dodgers agreed to terms with LHP Rich Hill for 3 years/$48 M. If fully healthy for a full season, Hill is worth every penny. That is a big if as the 110 IP Hill pitched last season is the most since 2007 and just the second time in his career that he's topped 100 IP. Last year, the Dodgers and Dave Roberts did a good job of splicing together a season out of a stable of injury prone pitchers, who…..were injured a lot! We'll see if they can keep that magic going in 2017.