Melancon strikes it rich; Rockies still need relief
The hometown kid struck it rich, just not in his hometown.
All-star relief pitcher Mark Melancon, the pride of Golden High School, signed a four-year contract with the San Francisco Giants on Monday for the princely sum of $62 million, a deal the Rockies could not match.
Melancon’s contract set a record for most lucrative contract ever signed by a closer, surpassing Jonathan Papelbon’s four-year, $50 million deal with Philadelphia in 2011. That record, however, probably will be shattered soon. Fellow freeagent closers Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen are hunting for fat, new contracts.
The Rockies had talks with Melancon’s representatives, but San Francisco was the clear front-runner to land the right-hander.
“We kept in touch and checked in to see where his representatives thought the market would go,” Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich said at the winter meetings. “He just ended up being a better fit somewhere else. … They knew that we were interested, but I wouldn’t say we were at the front of the line.”
Now that Melancon is off the market, where do the Rockies go to bolster their bullpen? They will continue to monitor other free agents, and the possibility of making a trade is still in play.
“If we can add impactful pitchers, we will add as many as we possibly can,” Bridich said.
Kansas City is open to trading righthanded reliever Wade Davis, who was key to the Royals’ 2015 World Series title. Would the Rockies be open to working out a deal for him?
“Again, we are open to all avenues,” Bridich said. “We plan on talking to every team, and most we already have, in advance of these meetings.”
Hard-throwing righthander Jairo Diaz, 25, who underwent Tommy John surgery and missed the 2016 season, is making excellent progress as he rehabs in his native Dominican Republic. At some point next season, the Rockies expect him to be a significant part of their relief corps.
“He’s doing very well,” Bridich said. “He’s been shut down by design, for now, but we feel really good about where he is at. The ball is really flying out of his hand.”
New manager Bud Black says the Rockies can succeed with young catchers Tony Wolters, Tom Murphy and Dustin Garneau behind the plate.
“The Giants won with Buster Posey as a young catcher,” Black said during his morning media session. “Yes, it can be done, no doubt about it. There is a learning curve, absolutely, on both sides, for the pitchers and the catchers.
“But there’s no doubt, the expectations that we’re going to place on our catchers is high. I’m big on the pitcher-catcher thing, big on that relationship. I felt it as a player. When I got to Anaheim (as a pitching coach), one of the things (I learned) early on in my relationship with (manager) Mike (Scioscia) was that he felt the same way, from his perspective as a catcher. So that has never left me, and over time, I’ve realized how important it is.”
Mark Melancon has gone from Golden High School to be an elite major-league closer.