Mark Melancon (left) will provide the Giants with a more reliable ninth inning specialist. (Charles LeClaire/USA Today Sports)
The San Francisco Giants came away from the Winter Meetings having shored up a weak spot in 2016 — the back end of their bullpen.
By signing Mark Melancon to a four-year, $62-million deal — the largest ever given to a reliever (for about five seconds, until Aroldis Chapman’s deal) — the Giants have solved an issue that really cost them this year as they blew 30 saves and nine times lost a lead in the ninth inning.
In recent seasons, Santiago Casilla and Sergio Romo seemed to have taken turns as the closer in San Francisco, and while Casilla held the post nearly all of last season, he suffered his most losses since 2012 and had his highest ERA since 2009.
Romo missed a good chunk of the season with an elbow injury, so he was babied even more than usual by the Giants this year, and is now a free agent, expected to sign elsewhere (possibly with the Yankees).
Hunter Strickland had long been considered the closer of the future in San Francisco, but he really struggled when given a chance to earn saves, and he was easier to hit last year than ever before.
So enter Melancon, who — unlike Chapman — was willing to pitch in California despite its tax laws. This year, Melancon ranked second in the NL in saves, and the thing we love about him is he’s a rare closer that’s capable of working as many games as a top setup man. He’s been a durable workhorse that simply doesn’t need to blow away hitters to be successful. No, Melancon will not rack up elite strikeout numbers, but when factoring in his saves, ERA and WHIP, you’re talking about a consistent top notch Fantasy asset, and one capable of helping himself defensively (see video below).
Just check out this dude’s WHIP marks since 2013: 0.96; 0.87; 0.93; 0.90. That’s some studly consistency, leading to nearly 100 saves over the past two years combined.
In other news…
- St. Louis has signed Dexter Fowler, shifting the balance in the NL Central a smidge. He earned his ring in Chicago and then moves to its biggest rival to solve the Cardinals’ issue at centre field. With Fowler taking over as leadoff hitter, Matt Carpenter is expected to shift to the three hole, where he’ll likely be a much greater source of RBI.
- Still in the NL Central, the Pirates’ efforts to trade star Andrew McCutchen away failed at the Winter Meetings. It’s looking likely now that he’ll still be in Steel City when the 2017 season kicks off. It sounded like a deal to Washington was really close, but the Nats instead dealt for Adam Eaton.
- Boston kept up its acquisition spree by signing first baseman Mitch Moreland, who will split the first base job with Hanley Ramirez. H-Ram will likely spend most of his time at DH, taking over for the retired David Ortiz, but periodically playing first base. This really helps upgrade the BoSox defense considering Moreland won the Gold Glove this year. The fact he’s always hit well at Fenway (.341 in 14 games) doesn’t hurt.
Now it’s your turn. Let us know in the comments below whether you think adding Melancon puts the Giants over the top in the NL West.