With free agency in full swing for Major League Baseball, the San Francisco Giants need to keep the signing of Mark Melancon in mind.
The deal paid him $9 million in 2017, a whopping $20 million in 2018, and $14 million over the next two seasons.
At the time the deal seemed like a no-brainer for the San Francisco Giants as they desperately needed bullpen help and Melancon had just posted a 1.64 ERA in 71.1 innings pitched with 47 saves between Pittsburgh and Washington.
However, in his two seasons with the Giants he has a 3.78 ERA in 69 innings pitched with 14 saves.
That is certainly not the type of production the Giants were hoping for when they signed the then 32-year-old reliever.
I am one who is never in favor of giving big money to relievers.
For one, you can typically find a great reliever in your farm system. A young arm that maybe won’t cut it as a starter in the big leagues, suddenly you put him in a bullpen role and his stuff is electric. We see it almost every year.
Second, relievers are unreliable from year-to-year. There are very few relief pitchers that are dominant for a four-year stretch. The lifespan of a great reliever seems to be really short, and it doesn’t help that the Giants signed Melancon for the back-end of his career.
I’m not saying it is a bad idea to every sign a free agent reliever. In fact, the San Francisco Giants need to sign a couple of relievers this offseason.
But I am completely opposed to giving big years and dollars to the top relievers. I would much rather that money be allocated to a bat or starting pitcher in the offseason.
Every year a reliever is going to emerge that contenders can trade for at the trade deadline for peanuts. It’s so much easier to build a bullpen during the season than in the offseason.
Hopefully the San Francisco Giants will learn from their mistake of signing Melancon and avoid the top free agent relievers this offseason.