Amid the flurry of free agent signings leading up to the shutdown of Major League Baseball's off-season after the CBA expired, recent SF Giants closer Mark Melancon agreed to a contract with a new team in the NL West.
Former SF Giants closer continues tour of NL West
Melancon, who began his MLB career with the New York Yankees in 2009, picked up a deal from the Arizona Diamondbacks worth $14 million over two years, according to ESPN's Jeff Passan (and the D-Backs' Twitter added news of a mutual option for 2024).
Melancon pitched for the San Diego Padres in 2021, earning his fourth career All-Star nod with a 2.23 ERA and Major League-leading 39 saves in 64 appearances. He turned down a $5 million player option in early November to become a free agent.
The 2021 season represented a revival for the 36-year-old hurler, with his best ERA and most saves in a season since a 2016 campaign split between the Pittsburgh Pirates and Washington Nationals. The four seasons in between, 2017-2020, had seen Melancon pitch to a 3.57 ERA with a total of 37 saves in 162 appearances.
The Diamondbacks will be the third NL West team and ninth overall to employ Melancon. Before spending the one season with San Diego, he was a member of the Giants' bullpen from 2017-2019.
San Francisco picked him up as a free agent in the offseason after the bullpen debacle in Game 4 of the 2016 Division Series against the Chicago Cubs, where five relievers combined to blow a three-run lead in the top of the ninth. With that rally, the Cubs took the game and series to end the Giants' even-year magic; the Cubs went on to win their first World Series championship in 108 years.
The Giants gave Melancon four years and $62 million - the highest average annual value ever for a relief pitcher at the time of signing - but the results were underwhelming. Coming off three All-Star appearances, 130 saves and 1.80 ERA in four years with the Pirates, Melancon struggled to stay healthy or show his old self when he was on the field.
In Melancon's first two seasons in the City by the Bay, he totaled 73 appearances - two less than the 2016 slate alone that earned him the big contract in the first place. He was fully healthy in 2019 and showed enough for the Atlanta Braves to acquire him for their stretch run, but Melancon's final Giants numbers included just 15 saves in 116 games pitched and a 3.57 ERA.
The Diamondbacks are somewhat of a homecoming for the right-hander. Melancon pitched for the University of Arizona in Tuscon, about two hours south of Phoenix, from 2004-2006. He will turn 37 just before the 2022 Major League season begins.