NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — The Giants went into the offseason with a clear goal of sorting out who would pitch the ninth inning on Opening Day. On the first day of the annual Winter Meetings, they figured it out.
The Giants agreed to a four-year deal with three-time All-Star Mark Melancon, pending a physical, a source confirmed to CSNBayArea.com. The deal will pay Melancon more than $60 million, per Joel Sherman of the New York Post, a temporary record for a reliever. Kenley Jansen and Aroldis Chapman, the other two closers the Giants chased, are expected to approach $100 million.
Melancon had 47 saves for the Pirates and Nationals last season, and he very nearly ended up in San Francisco at the trade deadline. The Giants believe their offer came up just short of Washington’s in July, but on Monday, they finally got their man.
The 31-year-old has a 2.60 ERA in eight seasons in the big leagues. Since becoming a closer, he has been as dominant as any reliever in the game. Melancon has a 1.93 ERA over the past three seasons with an MLB-leading 131 saves in 141 chances. He represents a huge upgrade at the Giants’ biggest position of need.
The bullpen blew a franchise record 30 saves in 2016, including nine in September alone. The Giants gave back a lead of four-or-more runs on six occasions, tying for the MLB lead. In Game 4 of the NLDS, the final game of their season, the Giants could not hold a three-run lead against the Cubs.
The Giants were in on all three marquee closers: Melancon, Chapman and Jansen and scoured the trade market. They have focused primarily on Melancon, who will likely come in at a much lower cost than the other two. The Giants were also eager to get a deal done quickly, and team officials believe Chapman and Jansen may drag the process out in search of the biggest deal. They did not want to be left hanging.
Melancon visited San Francisco last month and was said to have made a strong impression on the front office. He already has several ties to the Giants, having played with Hunter Pence in Houston and come up through the minors with George Kontos. Melancon was drafted by the Yankees in the ninth round of the 2006 Draft, four rounds behind Kontos.
ESPN's Buster Olney first reported the agreement was in place.