Mark Melancon arbitration deal a ‘win’ for the Pittsburgh Pirates


Amidst the arbitration moves made by the Pittsburgh Pirates last week, closer Mark Melancon, who tallied 33 saves last season, inked a $5.4 million deal that fell short of the MLBTR projection of $7.6 million.

And for Pirates fans, that is a good thing.

The 29-year-old right-hander assumed the reins from former closer Jason Grilli and did not disappoint, netting the aforementioned career-high 33 saves to go along with a sterling 1.90 earned run average in 72 games.

Finishing seventh in the league in saves, Melancon was a staple in the Pittsburgh bullpen as the team made a second-straight postseason appearance. Under team control for the next two seasons and coming off back-to-back seasons in which he made at least 72 appearances and posted a sub-2.00 ERA – a strong season in 2015 could mean a pay raise.

But, for now, it’s an extra $2.2 million in the checkbook of the front office.

In 2013, Melancon netted his first All-Star selection as the Pirates’ setup man, cruising to a 1.39 earned run average across 72 appearances. His unthinkable 8.75 strikeout-to-walk ratio helped him rise to national prominence in his first season with the Bucs, and last year, he posted a still-impressive 6.45 strikeout-to-walk mark to go along with a career-best 0.873 WHIP.

It’s somewhat surprising that the righty did not warrant a larger deal – especially given his utter dominance during the last two seasons at the back end of the Pittsburgh bullpen. You could make the case that Melancon has been the best right-handed reliever in the National League over the past two seasons, but because he doesn’t play in a large market, he remains relatively undervalued.

The Pirates need another dominant season from their closer – and if any recent performance is an indication, he’ll be nothing less in 2015.

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