San Francisco Giants Acquired: RHP Tristan Beck, RHP Dan Winkler
Atlanta Braves Acquired: RHP Mark Melancon
If you had told me that the San Francisco Giants were going to trade Melancon for a legitimate prospect, my first assumption would have been they picked up close to all of his contract.
Owed roughly $18 million over the next 14 months, the former elite closer is clearly due much more than he would receive on the open free-agent market.
First came the initial report that he had been traded:
The natural question was whether the Giants prioritized prospect returns or cash savings:
This return seemed to suggest prospects were the priority. While the Giants have a lot of long-term commitments on their books, they haven’t made any significant signings recently and don’t have any players due for exorbitant raises, so that made sense.
The Giants have already designated Dan Winkler for assignment. They may hope to sneak the 29-year-old through waivers. He’s a middle reliever who has had some success in the past with a high-spin fastball, but he lost his command this season.
Tristan Beck is the centerpiece of the deal for San Francisco. Once considered a top draft prospect, a series of back injuries have derailed his top prospect status. He still flashes a three-pitch arsenal that could add up to a back-end starter. Beck immediately ranks among the Giants top 25 prospects by every outlet.
Then came news of the financial side of things:
This may have been the biggest surprise of the deadline. The first inclination may be to criticize the Giants for prioritizing cash savings over prospects, but don’t. The Braves haven’t been aggressively acquiring contracts via free agency or trade and they have their young stars locked into team-friendly, long-term contracts, so they have the flexibility to spend somewhat frivolously.
My guess is the Braves weren’t giving up better prospects even if the Giants had offered some cash.
Frankly, the Giants return would still be strong even if they had eaten a substantial portion of Melancon’s contract.
The financial savings, combined with the addition of a legitimate prospect, makes this the best move of the day for the Giants.
For the Braves, Melancon aids a thin bullpen.
He isn’t elite anymore but still holds a 3.38 ERA over the past two seasons. There have been flashes of his old form, and perhaps the Braves can extract more out of him.
Either way, with their system’s pitching depth it would have been difficult for Beck to breakthrough, and they had the financial flexibility to absorb Melancon without batting an eye.