#4 – Relief pitcher Mark Melancon
Another strong trade that was criticized at the time for Huntington occurred in December 2012 when he sent reliever Joel Hanrahan and utility man Brock Holt to the Boston Red Sox in exchange for four players. Of the four players acquired the least heralded was reliever Mark Melancon. Well, Melancon would go on to become one of the best relievers in franchise history.
Melancon Pirates career began in 2013 when he teamed up with Jason Grilli to give the Bucs one of the best 8th/9th inning combos in all of baseball. In 2014, Melancon replaced Grilli as the team’s closer and this was a role he would serve until being traded to the Washington Nationals in July of 2016.
Mark the Shark logged 260.1 innings as a Pirate, posting a 1.80 ERA and a 2.27 FIP. He picked up 130 saves as a Pirate, including a franchise single season record 51 in 2015, and he was a National League All-Star in 2013, 2015 and 2016.
With his nasty cutter and wicked curveball Melancon was a terror for opposing batters during 3 1/2 seasons as a Pirate. Quietly, Melancon was one of the best pitchers in franchise history. He played a major role in the Pirates reaching the postseason in three consecutive seasons, a three season stretch during which he ranked 4th in fWAR (5.8) and FIP (2.20) and 2nd in ERA (1.85) among NL relievers with at least 150 innings pitched.