In a pre-lockout stunner, Diamondbacks sign All-Star Mark Melancon
As all of MLB and the players are about to enter into a lockout, GM Mike Hazen and the Arizona Diamondbacks shocked most of the baseball world by signing 4-time All-Star closer Mark Melancon. There had been no reports that the team was interested in signing him. Additionally, no reports had said that the team was close to signing any free agents.
The Diamondbacks signed Mark Melancon to a 2-year contract that includes 14 million dollars guaranteed. He’ll receive salaries of 6 million in both 2022 and 23′ while having a mutual 5 MM option for 2024 with a buy-out of 2 million dollars. There are also 2 million in incentives. A mutual option is where a player and team must agree to pick up that option or else the buyout occurs. Thus, this is likely a 2 year deal for 14 million. This is an absolute stunner since the Diamondbacks aren’t known for spending on bullpen arms.
To acquire a player of Mark’s caliber to likely be our closer is especially impressive. Melancon has pitched in the bigs for 13 years and is entering his age-37 season. While the age might scare you, his recent performances have shown no reason for worry. 2 years in a row has he recorded a sub-3.00 ERA and is coming off a season with the Padres in which he led the MLB in saves with 39. Plus, he made the All-Star team last year. Additionally, if he is to serve as our primary closer for both seasons, he will be the first player to do that since 2011 for the Diamondbacks. Yes, that long.
While Mark isn’t a power pitcher with high strikeouts, he’s always gotten the job done. Over his 670 2/3 innings with the Braves, Padres, Giants, Pirates, Red Sox, Nationals, Yankees, and Astros, he’s recorded 244 saves and a 2.79 ERA, 2.94 FIP. His save total ranks 4th among active MLB players.
Something many Arizona pitchers are notorious for is giving up the long ball. Mark isn’t known for that. He gives up less than half of the league average for home runs allowed. Furthermore, he relies on inducing ground balls, 56.4% of the time which is huge for closing games. Mark Melancon has shown no signs of wearing down either as he has pitched consistently and relatively injury-free.
The Diamondbacks were last in the MLB with saves (22) and save percentage (44%). Mark will help both those numbers immensely. He’ll add some much-needed validity and status to the bullpen in having a capable closer who has accrued 13.8 WAR in his career.
For a feel-good part of this story, Mark Melancon is returning home. Mark went to the University of Arizona in Tucson so it’s a bit of a homecoming. Although he’ll be living in far better parts of Arizona than Tucson. Sorry, Tucson.
While you may be wondering why such a good closer would sign here instead of a contending team, the Diamondbacks likely sold him on being the main closer. Additionally, the team is eyeing 2023 as their move towards contention in which Mark will still be with us. Thus, he’ll be able to help a team grow and mature and contend.
This is an exciting move and one of hopefully a few bullpen moves that Hazen makes. Welcome to the desert Mark! We’re excited to have you!