2:33pm: The Indians and Giants are among the other club showing interest, per Rosenthal (Twitter links). Pittsburgh is willing to consider proposals that include not only prospect value, but also a current major league reliever that would provide a solid set-up option for Pittsburgh.
11:07am: The Nationals and multiple other clubs are inquiring with the Pirates on closer Mark Melancon, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter link). Washington is known to be in pursuit of a late-inning relief arm, particularly in the wake of Jonathan Papelbon’s recent implosion (seven earned in his past three appearances, spanning one inning).
Melancon, 31, is earning $9.6MM in his final year before hitting the open market. A three-time All-Star with the Pirates, he’s sporting a stellar 1.51 ERA in 41 2/3 innings this season, averaging 8.2 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9 to complement a 48.2 percent ground-ball rate. The notion of Pittsburgh trading its closer may sound counter-intuitive at first, but there’s some logic behind the thinking, as I discussed earlier this week with Josh Taylor of TribLive Radio in Pittsburgh (audio link). The budget-conscious Pirates may be wary of extending a qualifying offer to Melancon in an offseason where he’ll be heading into his age-32 campaign and face competition from the likes of Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen on the free-agent market. Beyond that, the thought of losing Melancon for nothing certainly can’t be an appealing one to Pittsburgh GM Neal Huntington and his staff, so it makes sense for bullpen-hungry clubs to at least see if the Bucs are willing to consider the possibility.
Then again, there is not yet any indication as to how willing the Pirates are to actually part with Melancon. The team does possess an excellent setup man in Tony Watson and a bevy of young arms that could conceivably shift to the bullpen late in the season in order to limit their rising innings totals, but subtracting Melancon from the bullpen would weaken the club to some degree as it looks to secure a Wild Card playoff spot. Rosenthal does say that the Nats are talking to the Pirates, so Huntington is seemingly at least willing to listen, though most GMs will approach the trade deadline with an open mindset.
If made available, Melancon would presumably draw interest from the same collection of teams that have demonstrated interest in Royals closer Wade Davis and Yankees closer Andrew Miller. In addition to the Nationals, we’ve seen the Dodgers, Cardinals, Indians, Rangers and Giants linked to top-tier bullpen help over the course of the week (though Cleveland, it seems, is more focused on a lefty, and an intra-division trade to the Cardinals is of course unlikely).