Mark Melancon Rumors
On the heels of back-to-back All-Star appearances, the Pirates have traded away their closer one year before he hits free agency. Pittsburgh has dealt Joel Hanrahan and infielder Brock Holt to the Red Sox in exchange for reliever Mark Melancon, first baseman/outfielder Jerry Sands, infielder Ivan De Jesus Jr., and right-hander Stolmy Pimentel. Both teams have announced the trade.
Hanrahan, 31, pitched to a 2.72 ERA with 10.1 K/9 and 5.4 BB/9 in 59 2/3 innings for Pittsburgh last season. Despite having a reputation as a strong closer, some rival evaluators have been concerned about his conditioning and recent proclivity for walks. Hanrahan's walk rate climbed from 2.1 BB/9 in 2011 to 5.4 BB/9 in 2012. Matt Swartz projects the right-hander to earn $6.9MM through arbitration this winter after pulling down $4.1MM in 2012. Brian MacPherson of The Providence Journal notes he will not net the Red Sox a compensation draft pick if he signs elsewhere based on the assumption Hanrahan will accept a pricey qualifying offer (Twitter links).
Melancon, 27, pitched to a 6.20 ERA with 8.2 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9 in 45 relief innings with the Red Sox after being acquired from the Astros last winter. He spent some time in Triple-A as well, then returned to the big league club at midseason. Melancon struck out 40 and walked just ten in his final 43 innings of the season. The former Houston closer will step into Pittsburgh's bullpen to provide depth behind the recently re-signing Jason Grilli, who will take over as closer.
Both Sands and De Jesus came to the Red Sox in their summer blockbuster trade with the Dodgers. The 25-year-old Sands owns a Triple-A batting line of .288/.362/.552 with 55 home runs in 940 plate appearances across the past two years. He also has 70 big league games to his credit, most of which came in 2011. De Jesus, 25, has 80 big league plate appearances under his belt and is a .303/.355/.416 hitter in 1,294 career Triple-A plate appearances. The Red Sox had recently removed him from their 40-man roster.
Pimentel, 22, was rated as the sixth best prospect in the Red Sox's organization in 2010 by Baseball America but was bumped down to No. 23 the following year. The 6-foot-3 right-hander boasts a strong changeup but has failed to impress at the Double-A level. In 37 starts for Double-A Portland, the youngster has posted a 5.96 ERA with 6.3 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9. Alex Speier of WEEI.com notes that Pimentel was targeted by the Pirates in 2008 as part of the three-way deal with the Dodgers and Red Sox that resulted in Manny Ramirez going to LA and Jason Bay coming to Boston, but the Sox refused to include him.
Holt, 24, was rated as the 27th best prospect in the Pirates' farm system in 2010 by Baseball America, but he has not been featured by the publication in their annual Prospect Handbook since. He hit .292/.329/.354 in 72 big league plate appearances this season, his MLB debut. Holt has hit .317/.381/.427 throughout his minor league career, including a .344/.406/.453 showing between Double-A and Triple-A this past season. He's played the middle infield exclusively as a professional, spending most of his time at short rather than second.
Andrew Bailey, Boston's incumbent closer, pitched to a 7.04 ERA in 15 1/3 innings in 2012 while missing most of the year with injuries. The additions of Hanrahan and Koji Uehara give the Red Sox some late-inning bullpen depth along with Junichi Tazawa and possibly Daniel Bard if he can bounceback from a disastrous season. The Pirates will pair Melancon and Grilli with Jared Hughes and Tony Watson, though they could also seek additional relief help on the free agent market.
ESPNBoston.com's Gordon Edes first reported that the two sides were nearing an agreement while ESPN's Jim Bowden reported the agreement (on Twitter). Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, John Tomase of the Boston Herald, MLB.com's Evan Drellich, MLB.com's Peter Gammons, and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports all added details on Twitter. Mike Axisa contributed to this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
The Red Sox have placed Daniel Bard, Mark Melancon and Clayton Mortensen on revocable waivers, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports (on Twitter). The Red Sox have placed many players on waivers since the current waiver period opened at the beginning of August; this is by no means an indication that they intend to trade more players.
If the right-handers go unclaimed, the Red Sox would be able to trade them to any team (the players wouldn’t be eligible for postseason rosters). If a team claims one of the players, the Red Sox will have three choices. They can let the player (and his contract) go to the claiming team, they can complete a trade with the claiming team, or they can pull the player back off of waivers. American League teams will have claiming priority on the three Red Sox pitchers.
The latest on the Red Sox, via Alex Speier of WEEI.com...
- The Red Sox are currently evaluating five starters for the final two spots in their rotation, Speier writes. Daniel Bard, Alfredo Aceves, Vicente Padilla, Andrew Miller and Felix Doubront are all in the mix for a starting job. Aaron Cook and Ross Ohlendorf could join the competition, but they have yet to pitch in games.
- The Red Sox are open to the idea of trading for a starter during Spring Training or once the season begins, but they’re comfortable with what they have, Speier reports.
- Speier also has the details on the contracts of Boston's pre-arbitration eligible players. Junichi Tazawa($920K) and Mark Melancon ($521K) will earn well over the $480K minimum in 2012. The Red Sox announced today that they have agreed to terms with the 16 players on their 40-man roster who aren't yet arb eligible.
Red Sox GM Ben Cherington appeared on MLB Network Radio's "Inside Pitch" with Jim Bowden this afternoon to speak about the club's offseason plans. Alex Speier of WEEI.com has a partial transcript of the interview and here are some highlights...
- Cherington said the Red Sox are looking for rotation depth. The team is satisfied with Jon Lester, Josh Beckett and Clay Buchholz at the top of the rotation so the Sox "don’t feel like we’re backed into a place where we need to break the door in for a top-of-the-rotation starter," Cherington said. "If we can do that and it makes sense for us, then we’ll certainly do that. We’re always looking for ways to do that. But...we’re in good position there and can kind of let the market come to us a little bit."
- To this end, Cherington said "the timing wasn’t right" for the team to bid on Yu Darvish.
- Cherington said he had been in contact with Ryan Madson and Joe Saunders' representatives "as well as several other free agent options."
- The newly-acquired Mark Melancon projects as Boston's closer, at least for now. “As I told Mark on the phone when I talked to him, we believe he can close....If the season opened tomorrow, that’s what he’d be doing,” Cherington said. This, of course, could easily change should the Red Sox sign Madson or trade for Andrew Bailey.
- The Red Sox have interviewed Brad Arnsberg and Neil Allen about the vacant pitching coach job and also talked to "several" other candidates.
The Red Sox acquired reliever Mark Melancon from the Astros for shortstop Jed Lowrie and starter Kyle Weiland, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. ESPN's Jerry Crasnick first tweeted that Weiland was traded to Houston in a deal that involved a reliever going to Boston. The deal marks the first trade involving Major Leaguers by both Astros GM Jeff Luhnow and Red Sox GM Ben Cherington since taking over their respective roles.
Melancon, 26, turned in a 2.78 ERA, 8.0 K/9, 3.1 BB/9, 0.61 HR/9, and 56.7% groundball rate in 74 1/3 innings this year, saving 20 games in 25 tries. The right-hander won't be arbitration eligible until after the 2013 season and won't hit free agency until after the 2016 campaign. Acquiring Melancon will bolster Boston's bullpen, but they're unlikely to stop here, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Boston has reportedly been after A's closer Andrew Bailey and Rosenthal says that they can't be ruled out on Ryan Madson.
Lowrie has been drawing a good deal interest from clubs this offseason. The infielder's name also came up during the Winter Meetings when the Red Sox met with the Rangers and discussed possible trades. In 341 plate appearances for Boston last season, the oft-injured Lowrie hit .252/.303/.382 with six homers. Lowrie has been used all around the infield, but he's likely to take over as the Astros' starting shortstop. He's arbitration eligible for the first time this winter and MLBTR projects a $1.2MM salary.
Weiland, 25, struggled in 24 2/3 innings in his Red Sox debut this year. At Triple-A, he posted a 3.58 ERA, 8.8 K/9, 3.9 BB/9, and 0.70 HR/9 in 128 1/3 innings. A third-round pick in 2008, Baseball America ranked Weiland 20th among Red Sox prospects prior to the season. BA says the former Notre Dame closer "relishes pitching inside" and his "best pitch is a low-90s fastball that peaks at 95 but is most notable for its hard sink." The Astros plan to use Weiland as a starter in 2012, tweets Alex Speier of WEEI.com.
The Astros will have to clear a spot on their 40-man roster, as it was full prior to the trade.
On this day last year, Brian Giles invoked his no-trade clause in a deal that would have sent him to Boston. Some links:
- Robinson Cano, Brian Bruney, Mark Melancon and David Robertson have all cleared waivers for the Yankees, says George A. King III at the New York Post, and quite a few more names are going through waivers now, including A.J. Burnett and Melky Cabrera. Keep checking out our updated Players Who Have Cleared Waivers post as August progresses.
- Vicente Padilla is "disappointed" in having being designated for assignment and being called a "bad teammate," says T.R. Sullivan at MLB.com, and he wants to pitch again.
- According to George A. King III at the New York Post, the Yankees have no interest in bringing back Jason Giambi, who was released by the A's this week.
- Yahoo Sports' Gordon Edes writes that the failed John Smoltz gamble by the Red Sox proves just how deep the gap is between small and large-market teams.
- Ray Ratto at the San Francisco Chronicle believes that the failed Jason Giambi gamble proves that GM Billy Beane shouldn't continue with one-year deals for older veterans.
More odds, more ends, more links...
- Matt Cerrone of MetsBlog reports that the Mets have designated Angel Berroa for assignment. Berroa's tenure in Flushing lasted 31 plate appearances, in which he fashioned a .148-.233-.185 batting line.
- George A. King III of The NY Post reports that the Yankees placed second baseman Robinson Cano, as well as relievers Brian Bruney, David Robertson, and Mark Melancon on waivers this past Wednesday. King says it's "highly unlikely the Yankees will deal Cano."
- MLB.com's Daniel Paulling spoke to Greg Genske, agent for Rangers' supplemental first round pick Tanner Scheppers, and reports that Genske is "setting up an audition for Scheppers for about a half dozen Japanese teams within a couple of weeks." Genske hasn't decided whether or not to invite the Rangers to workout, and also mentions that Scheppers has been given a clean bill of health.
- In addition to eighth rounder Colton Cain, the Pirates have also signed fourth round pick Zackry Dodson according to MLB.com's Jen Langosch. Team president Frank Coonelly denied a report that the team reached an agreement with Dodson last month.
- Patrick at NPB Tracker passes along a report that Chris Resop has left the Hanshin Tigers and returned home to the States to recover from pain in his throwing elbow. Resop doesn't have any immediate plans to return to Japan, and Patrick says he's unlikely to get another shot with Hanshin.
Ken Rosenthal suggests that in this economy some teams may not offer arbitration to Type A free agents to avoid risking a payroll hit. Further, some players may opt to accept the certainty of arbitration over "a volatile free agent period."
The Dbacks were always expected to offer arbitration to Adam Dunn and he was expected to decline thus netting Arizona two draft picks to compensate for the three players they dealt in August. In arbitration, Dunn would command $15-16MM. Says Rosenthal,
"...if the D-backs made the offer, it's doubtful that Dunn and his agents would determine by midnight Saturday that a multiyear contract was beyond their reach. What's more, the D-backs always could trade Dunn if he accepted their offer. In that sense, he would be an asset on a one-year deal; the Nationals, among other teams, would jump."
In arbitration, Kerry Wood would get around $9-10MM per year but it's obvious the Cubs are not interested in even one year at that price - that money is better spent improving the rotation. The Cubs see Carlos Marmol, not Wood, as their closer and have opted to replace their setup man by trading for Kevin Gregg rather than paying Wood to slot into the role. Rosenthal notes Wood said he would have returned on a one year deal, and if he were to accept arbitration then the Cubs would most likely look to deal him - perhaps to the Rangers?
Rosenthal also points out that arbitration contracts are not guaranteed, but releasing Wood in Spring Training would result in a grievance by the players union. It would be hard to justify releasing a player of Wood's caliber.
Ben Sheets could command $13-14MM in arbitration and for an ace-quality pitcher that's reasonable. Rosenthal makes this easy:
"If the Brewers fail to offer Sheets arbitration, it will be a clear indication that club officials are concerned about his ability to stay healthy in 2009. And remember, the Brewers know Sheets better than any other team."
Today's link collection:
- Joel Sherman says the Mets would be willing to eat some money on a contract to reduce the prospect price for a corner outfielder. He suggests names like Xavier Nady, Raul Ibanez, Randy Winn, and Adam Dunn. The salary-eating strategy would probably only help with Winn.
- The Hanshin Tigers purchased reliever Chris Resop's contract from the Braves.
- Ricky Bottalico says Brett Myers wants to be traded, but Myers and the Phillies denied it.
- It would be cool to see Yovani Gallardo return this year, if only to see him line up with CC Sabathia and Ben Sheets for a brief period of time. That's three aces.
- The Yankees are still interested in Rockies closer Brian Fuentes; the Rox might be interested in Mark Melancon.
- More rumblings that the Dodger front office is confusing other teams.
- SI.com's Jon Heyman ranks the most impactful potentially available players, raising the question of whether impactful is a word. Heyman also includes odds of each player being dealt.