12:48pm: Melancon’s deal is for exactly $62MM over four years, tweets Rosenthal.
11:57am: Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports (on Twitter) that it’s a four-year deal in the $62MM range for Melancon. That contract shatters the previous record by $12MM, though it of course isn’t likely to stand all that long given the other names available in free agency this winter.
11:42am: Melancon has agreed to terms with the Giants, and the deal will be finalized once he passes a physical, reports ESPN’s Buster Olney (on Twitter).
10:45am: The Giants are close to a deal with free agent closer Mark Melancon, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter). Alex Pavlovic of CSN Bay Area tweeted recently that there was a belief in the organization had a strong belief that a deal would get done, and Les Shapiro of Mile High Radio first tweeted that Melancon was wrapping up negotiations with San Francisco. Melancon is represented by ISE Baseball.
[Related: Mark Melancon Free Agent Profile]
San Francisco made a run at Melancon prior to the non-waiver trade deadline this summer but came up short to the Nationals, who acquired him for lefties Felipe Rivero and Taylor Hearn. Bullpen struggles wound up being a defining characteristic for the Giants down the stretch, as Santiago Casilla in particular struggled late in the year and lost his hold on closer’s duties. Giants general manager Bobby Evans has implied publicly in the past that perhaps he should’ve made a stronger play to get Melancon into the organization, and it appears now that the Giants made the strongest push of any team to land the highly coveted Melancon in free agency. There are no numbers attached to reports on him just yet, but Melancon reportedly has received four-year offers worth more than $60MM, which would eclipse Jonathan Papelbon’s four-year, $50MM mark and set a new record for a relief pitcher.
The 31-year-old Melancon (32 in March) has been an All Star in three of the past four seasons and has worked to a cumulative ERA of 1.80 across 290 innings in that time (plus 10 innings in the postseason). He doesn’t flash the extreme velocity and/or strikeout rates as free agent counterparts Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen, but Melancon misses bats at a slightly above-average rate and also boasts tremendous control and ground-ball tendencies. In that four-year run of dominance, he’s averaged 8.3 K/9 and 1.4 BB/9 to go along with a 57.4 percent ground-ball rate. Those immaculate ratios have led to 147 saves for Melancon since 2013, including an NL-best 51 in 2015. He also finished a league-high 67 games between the Pirates and Nats last season.
Turnover in the bullpen has long looked possible for the Giants, who saw stalwarts Casilla, Sergio Romo and Javier Lopez all hit the open market this winter. Melancon, of course, would immediately move to the top of the food chain in the San Francisco bullpen, where he’s likely to be joined by Hunter Strickland, Derek Law, Will Smith, George Kontos and Cory Gearrin. Steven Okert and Josh Osich are both present as left-handed options to fill out the ’pen, while Chris Heston could try to crack the relief corps after a tough go of things in 2016.