Mark Melancon is officially a Giant. Here, a picture:
One thing you might not be aware of is that he pitches with a tie and collared shirt in every game. That is true and a fun fact, and if he doesn’t do it next year, something must have changed, so don’t blame me for misinformation.
With the Giants suggesting they’re done for the offseason, though, there’s a slight tinge of buyer’s remorse over here. If a team’s going to spend on a closer, they shouldn’t mess around with the second-tier guys, so they got that right. Melancon is unambiguously excellent, a top-flight closer, so it’s hard to complain about him on a contending team, even if he’s just a teensy bit expensive.
You know, just a teensy bit. Just a teensy, teensy bit.
Now that Dexter Fowler has signed, though, we have some indication of what the Giants could have signed instead of Melancon.
- One (1) Dexter Fowler
And along with him, assuming the payroll was going to be the same as it is now, the Giants would have used Derek Law or Hunter Strickland to close because they had to. Or they would have traded the farm for a pre-arbitration closer like the Astros did with Ken Giles last year.
Neither scenario excites me, and that’s before you get to Fowler costing a draft pick. So in this one scenario, I’m okay with Melancon.
- One (1) Mark Trumbo
Oh, I would have enjoyed the dingers, but he’s clearly a first baseman, at best. Always has been.
- One (1) Ian Desmond
A fine outfielder and general utility knife! But if he’s not playing shortstop or center field, I’m not interested, and we’re still not sure just how much of an outfielder he is. He had a very prominent oh-right-I’m-really-an-infielder moment in the ALDS, where he pulled up way short of the wall on a ball in the gap.
And, again, that comes with the loss of a draft pick and an in-house closer. Plus, these guys are more expensive than Melancon by $10 million to $20 million.
- Greg Holland and Josh Reddick
Ah, now this is interesting. Holland just might be as effective as Melancon for a fifth of the price, and Reddick is a generally fine outfielder whose price dropped because of post-trade weirdness, which is how the Giants ended up with Johnny Cueto.
The problem with this is that Reddick is left-handed and left, which didn’t fit the Giants’ roster at all. So this was probably out from the start.
- Koji Uehara and Jose Bautista
Bautista can’t really field these days, and Uehara isn’t really a 70-inning pitcher, either. This is a fine pairing three years ago, not so much three months from now. If I trusted Uehara to handle the workload of a normal closer, then maaaaaybe you could talk me into this.
- Brad Ziegler, a trade for J.D. Martinez, and enough money left over for another reliever, like Neftali Feliz, Uehara, or Sergio Romo
Bingo. It would have spread the risk around in the bullpen, and the lineup would have been improved. The catch is that the Tigers would have had to be buying what the Giants are selling, and we have no idea what they’re asking for. The might have said “Derek Law and five prospects, or no deal,” which would defeat the purpose of getting another reliever in this sort of bulk shopping.
This is all assuming the Giants are really unwilling to spend past the Melancon line. If they were secretly willing to pay market price for Yoenis Cespedes, maybe the calculus is different.
As it stands, though, I’m not enamored of all the different ways the Giants could have maxed out their credit card this year. Fernando Rodney and a Ryan Braun trade? No matter which permutation I use, it comes up all furrow-browed and sticky.
So yearn not for the opportunities missed, and rejoice that it’s not Aroldis Chapman for $26 million more. The Giants used all of their money on a closer, and while it’s probably not the best thing they could have done, it certainly isn’t the worst.