By Jason Shetler
In December of 2012, the Pirates decided to trade Joel Hanrahan, who was due a large amount in arbitration, to the Boston Red Sox in a deal that included Mark Melancon. That trade worked out well for the Pirates, as Melancon has been outstanding in Pittsburgh while Hanrahan didn’t pitch well for Boston, and has had a couple of Tommy John surgeries since.
Melancon first came over to the Pirates as a reclamation project. Not only was he able to turn things around, but he had one of the best seasons for a Pirates reliever in 2013. He also performed well as the closer last year after Jason Grilli faltered. Melancon’s good work earned him $5.4 million this past offseason to avoid arbitration. Despite a rough April, Melancon has been stellar again this season, posting a 1.58 ERA along with a 1.02 WHIP, a 59% groundball rate and 38 saves in 58 appearances.
The Pirates need to decide what to do with Melancon this offseason. He’ll be in his final year of arbitration eligibility, and will be owed a huge salary raise, especially if he ends up being the National League saves leader. Prior to the Pirates getting Melancon, Hanrahan was projected to make around $7 million, which seemed like too much to give a closer, and as a result, wound up trading him. With the season Melancon is having, as well as the money he’ll be slated to make this offseason, it’s a great opportunity for the Pirates to sell high and get back a solid package for him.