While many of us were stuffing our faces and planning on what to do for the holidays, the San Francisco Giants have been busy. Earlier this week they signed Mark Melancon to a four year, $62 million deal. The signing helps San Francisco shore up their closer position, which was one of the worst in baseball last season. Giants fans grew all too familiar with watching a late game lead slip away in the 9th in September and culminating with the Giants blowing a 4 run lead in the 9th inning of Game 4 against the Chicago Cubs, who would eventually go on to win the World Series. While Bruce Bochy tried to switch it up between Santiago Casilla, Sergio Romo, and even Hunter Strickland, he was let down far too often.
Melancon split time between the Pittsburgh Pirates and Washington Nationals last season, but has been one of the better closers in recent years. After a career high 51 saves in 2015, Melancon was able to convert 47 combined between Pittsburgh and Washington last season. In the past two seasons combined, Melancon has only missed on 6 opportunities, while converting nearly 100. To put that in perspective, Santiago Casilla blew 9 opportunities just last season, following a season where he blew 6. In the same two year span he only converted 84.
Originally the signing seemed like a lot of money to pay for a reliever, but with the Yankees signing Aroldis Chapman to a 5-year, $86 million contract with a no trade clause and an exceptionally weird clause that says he can’t be traded to any California team, the Melancon deal doesn’t seem so bad. Melancon doesn’t have the off field issues Chapman has, and has proven durable and good. Given the Giants’ history of playing 1 run games, and Bochy’s reliance on a bullpen, fans should breathe a sigh of relief (no pun intended), knowing they have a reliable closer at the end of games again. They haven’t had this close of a sure thing since Robb Nen.
What may shock Giants fans is the announcement that the Giants don’t intend to bring back Santiago Casilla, Javier Lopez, or Sergio Romo. The departure of Casilla was all but foregone after the season he had last year when Giants fans started booing whenever he entered a game. In Philadelphia this just means it’s a Tuesday afternoon, but when hometown guys get booed in the Bay Area it’s a big deal. The Giants would have been foolish to bring him back.
Sergio Romo’s attitude probably had a lot to do with his departure. Romo has been shaky in the past three seasons, or injured. This came to the forefront last year when on multiple occasions, after Romo was pulled, he would laugh if a reliever would give up a run. This attitude stops being acceptable in high school ball, and even if he felt he was pulled too soon, that’s a conversation he needs to have with Bochy behind closed doors.
The most surprising departure is probably Javier Lopez, who has been about as surefire as you can get from a reliever. Since coming to the Giants, he has thrived as a lefty specialist in high leverage situations. With the bullpen faltering as much as it did last season, Bruce Bochy tried to stretch out Lopez a few times, and paid the price as we all saw why he should only be a specialist. That being said, I don’t see how the Giants replace him with anyone currently on the team. These three leaving, following Jeremy Affeldt’s retirement last season, means the “Core 4” will no longer be in orange and black.
Another shocking move the Giants made yesterday was trading Chris Heston to the Seattle Mariners for a player to be named later. While Heston excelled in 2015, tossing a no hitter against the New York Mets, he crashed back down to Earth last season. While only appearing in 4 games for San Francisco, Heston struggled mightily in their farm system. It seemed to be a combination of missing time due to injury and the league readjusting to him, it was not a season to remember for the 28 year old.
The Giants must have felt with the influx of young arms, Heston didn’t fit. Their bullpen next year will have some major adjustments and the 5th starter is up in the air, but the Giants seem to have improved by subtraction this offseason.
Quick Hits About the CBA
Much to the fans’ delight, a new collective bargaining agreement was reached last week, meaning five more years of uninterrupted baseball. Here are the major changes:
- – The 15-day DL is now the 10-day DL so players won’t have to miss as much time
- – The All Star Game will no longer determine home field advantage in the World Series. It will now be awarded to the team with the best regular season record.
- – Teams will only have 7 days to designate a player for assignment instead of 10.
- – Managers will not select All Stars. There will still be a fan vote, but the slots that used to be selected by the manager will now be selected by Major League Baseball.
- – There will be regular season games scheduled in multiple countries to promote the game. Mexico, Asia, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and London are all part of the plan.
- – The season will still be 162 games but will be stretched out to allow 4 extra off days.
Also, there is a competitive balance adjustment, meaning small market teams will forfeit their 3rd highest pick when signing a player who denied a qualifying offer. The major market teams (the Giants) will lose their second and fifth.