Thoughts on the Melancon Trade

The Pirates sent 3x All Star Mark Melancon to the Washington Nationals earlier today for relief lefty Felipe Rivero and prospect Taylor Hearn. The Pirates are 52-49 heading into tonights game in Milwaukee and are only 3 games out of the 2nd Wild Card spot.

Many want to know why it seems the Pirates are giving up when they truly aren’t out of it.

They’re not.

It makes sense to move Melancon right now. The market for pitching is thin and good relief help is hard to come by at the deadline. Melancon is a free agent at the end of the season this year. The Pirates won’t be able to give him a worthy offer to match that of other teams. He is making just under $10 million this season and somebody will pay him this offseason.

The qualifying offer this offseason is said to be around $17 million for 1 year as well. It made sense to get something in return for an elite closer.

It’s how to Pirates work. The trade made is very Pirate-like too. They get Felipe Rivero, a 25 year old, lefty relief pitcher who throws gas. The best part is they get him along with 5 years of team control. No one is an immediate replacement for losing Mark, but it could work out nicely for the Pirates.

Tony Watson will be the new closer and Neftali Feliz the 8th inning set up man. You can argue that these guys have more closer-like stuff than Melancon ever did. Melancon bounced around from Houston and the Yankees before Pittsburgh acquired him in 2012 from Boston. He had a 6.20 ERA with the Red Sox in 2012 and turned into a top closer in baseball with the Bucs.

Neal Huntington said Rivero will work the 7th inning when he arrives with the team tomorrow in Milwaukee.

It’ll be interesting to see what Ray Searage can do with a guy like Rivero who has a plus fastball and a good change up to compliment it. He has a K rate of 9.60 per 9 innings this season and walks 2.72 per 9. He could be a closer in the making and find himself in that role in a year or two after Watson.

This doesn’t mean they’re giving up. They made a move they felt they had to make after seeing what teams were getting for others on the same market. It’s definitely a lot better than getting nothing for him and seeing him sign with another team this winter.

The back end of the bullpen was never the problem and I don’t think the Pirates are done making moves before the deadline. They’re going to look to add a starter in their struggling rotation.

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