TODAY: The reason the Rox were able to release Melville is that minor-league transactions are not presently frozen, MLBTR has learned. We haven’t seen any such deals of late, but they’re evidently permissible by rule.
YESTERDAY: The Rockies have released right-hander Tim Melville. The 30-year-old Melville posted a farewell message on Instagram, and the Denver Post’s Kyle Newman tweets that Melville confirmed he was indeed released today.
Normally, the release of a 30-year-old journeyman who had been in camp as a non-roster invitee wouldn’t be particularly surprising. But Melville’s release is indeed quite curious given the current circumstances throughout the league.
Not long after Spring Training was shut down and baseball was put on an indefinite hiatus, it was reported that rosters would be locked. Teams aren’t even permitted to discuss contract extensions with their players at the moment, so it’s rather peculiar to see a player confirm a recent release. It’s unclear at present just how to explain the circumstances surrounding his release.
Melville was a feel-good story for Rockies fans in a mostly miserable 2019 season. The 2008 fourth-rounder (Royals) had quick cups of coffee with the Reds, Twins and Padres in 2016-17 but didn’t find any success in his limited work. He spent time with the Long Island Ducks of the independent Atlantic League in both 2017 and 2019, which eventually led him to the Rockies organization. After a nondescript run with Triple-A Albuquerque last year, injuries on the big league roster opened the door for Melville in August, and he immediately turned in the two best performances of his professional career.
Over his first two outings with the Rox, Melville held the D-backs and Braves to just one run on seven hits and five walks with 10 strikeouts through 12 frames. He made five more starts down the stretch — a pair of brutal outings (10 combined runs in five innings) and three solid but less-spectacular outings. In all, he wound up with a 4.86 ERA in 33 1/3 frames — not bad for a depth pickup who made four of his seven starts at the daunting Coors Field.
Melville achieved folk hero status among Rox fans, both for his improbable success in his first two outings and his even more improbable return to the Major Leagues. As The Athletic’s Nick Groke wrote in a terrific profile of Melville (subscription required), the right-hander took a minimum wage job at Little Miss BBQ in Phoenix, Ariz., after the 2018 season, hoping to learn about barbecue. He left the club last April to join the Ducks and was back in pro ball after just two Atlantic League starts.
Melville returned to the Rockies on a non-roster deal over the winter but was slowed by a cracked rib in Spring Training. There’s virtually no certainty in baseball at the moment, so it’s hard to know whether he’ll latch on elsewhere or explore what’s next on his barbecue career path, but whatever route he takes, Melville is a pretty easy guy to cheer for.