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$ Melancon’s Millions $


You’d think Mark Melancon wants to remain in the Shark Tank and compete for the NL Central with his brothers-in-arms.

You’d think he’d want to stay with the catchers in Cervelli and Stewart who know him well as he heads off into his first and maybe last free agent season.  But the one thing I gather is that Mark Melancon is a pretty smart guy.  That’s why I’m sure Mark Melancon is hoping to be traded.

“What!! Melancon wants to stay!  You’re an idiot!!”  Let me explain…

Under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement a player traded during the season CAN NOT receive a qualifying offer the following offseason.

Here’s a chart to simplify:

Situation 1

Situation 2

Situation 3

Situation 4

No qualifying offer

Team makes qualifying offer

Team makes qualifying offer

Player is traded during season

Player hits free agency

Player turns it down

Player accepts

Not allowed to offer qualifying offer

Player hits free agency

Player gets a one year $16M contract

Player hits free agency

Team that signs him loses 1st round draft choice (or 2nd round if top ten)

Old team gets supplemental first round pick


AJ Burnett

Russell Martin

Matt Wieters

J.A. Happ






Guess on Melancon’s next contract per Situation





Pirates compensation for Melancon per Situation  (Guess for Sit. 4)


25th-35th pick in 2017 MLB draft and the slot money for that pick

Melancon returns for ’17 at $16M

One B+ prospect or two B- prospects (per John Sickels’ grading system)

If the Pirates keep Melancon, he will be in the first three columns.  If we trade him, he’ll be in the fourth column.    You can see that the situation that is best for Melancon is column 1 or 4 as he’ll get a MUCH larger contract.

The question is how does Huntington approach this situation.   Is he OK with situation 1 where the Pirates and Melancon shake hands and part ways after the season?   That seemed like the case with A.J. Burnett, but not the case with Neil Walker as he was traded while he still had value.

Would Melancon accept the qualifying offer? I say YES. I don’t think he’s good enough to get people to look past the draft choice; the draft choice is a deal breaker for teams like the Pirates.  Melancon has been very effective as a closer for the Pirates, but velocity pays in today’s MLB.  Many teams may see the 91 mph cutter and feel that there is little room for error in the future with Melancon and consider him a setup man long-term.

Could I see Melancon turning down the qualifying offer and signing a multi-year deal with the Pirates?   YES.   I think the qualifying offer kills his value and thus returning to the Pirates for 3/$24M would be an OK contract and a good risk-reward for both teams.

The argument that is really hard to speak, but is true, is that Situation 4 might be good for both Melancon AND the Pirates.

Aroldis Chapman, the alleged wife beater, just made millions this coming offseason by getting traded and allowing all teams to bid on him while the Yankees just gained someone who could be Carlos Correa in former Cubs prospect Gleyber Torres (plus a few others).  Chapman and the Yankees…and, hopefully, the Cubs are happy.

The problem is the Yankees aren’t in the playoff hunt… the Pirates are.   The Pirates also are built for August and September with all their depth, so I don’t see them fading.  Rather I see them securing and locking down the final wild card spot.

The question is — do you think the Pirates could do this without Melancon?   We all know that closers are severely overvalued.  However, the Pirates have just stabilized their bullpen and now Feliz-Watson-Melancon are shortening games to 6 innings.  It’s hard to see the Pirates risking the disruption of a good thing while they are just 1.5 games out of the Wild Card race.  The goal of a season is to win that particular year, not to wave the white flag in the season just to get excited about some low-level prospects that may or may not help the team 2 to 3 years from now (if ever).

It really doesn’t matter what we think, it’s what Neal Huntington thinks… but realize Melancon might be faking it at the post trade press conference.

About Michael Bradley (45 Articles)
Michael is a Pirates contributor to The Point of Pittsburgh. Michael is former submarine officer and Naval Academy grad. He now runs a small consulting firm and does veteran related job fairs. He is a SABR member and regularly attends Altoona Curve games to scout the Pirate prospects.
Contact: Twitter

1 Comment on $ Melancon’s Millions $

  1. Omar Moreno Rules // July 27, 2016 at 6:25 PM // Reply

    I would be shocked if the Pirates would make a QO for MM for fear that he would sign it. It’s time to trade him if you can get a nice return. If not, keep him and hope for the best. With the way Andrew and Frankie are playing this year, along with Cole’s time out, lack of domination, I do not see the PBC making the playoffs this year. Kang is not exactly killing it and has his own issues.
    I hate to say it but I think this might be a sell year. This could change after tonights game. I am an optimist at heart. Nice article.

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