Number 1 – Pirates Acquire Mark Melancon
Mark Melancon will go down in history as one of the best relievers in Pirate franchise history. To fill in the void of set-up man, the Pirates traded then closer Joel Hanarnhan, and utility prospect Brock Holt to the Boston Red Sox for Melancon, right-handed pitcher Stolmy Pimentel, infielder Ivan De Jesus, and outfielder Jerry Sands.
Initially, the trade was met with skepticism in Pittsburgh. Melancon was coming off a down season and Pimentel was viewed as the big piece in the trade. Furthermore, Hanrahan was coming off an All-Star season. Well, Melancon became a three-time All-Star while Hanrahan saw injuries derail his playing career.
After a rough 2012 season, Melancon bounced back in a big way in ‘13. He pitched to the tune of a 1.39 ERA, 1.64 FIP, and 0.96 WHIP. He gave up just a single home run and 8 walks in 71 innings of work. All told, Melancon posted a 1.80 ERA, 2.27 FIP, and 0.93 WHIP with the Bucs in 260.1 innings across three and a half seasons.
Melancon’s 6.7 fWAR with the Bucs is the third most of any Pirates relief pitcher of all time only being passed by Kent Tekulve and Roy Face. The right hander also has the 5th most saves (130), and the single season save total (51 in 2015) in franchise history. He more than made up for De Jesus and Sands never playing a game for the Bucs, and Pimentel barely making an impact in the 42 innings he did pitch with the Pirates.
As for the Red Sox end of the deal, former Pirates’ closer Joel Hanarhan may have pitched good for the Pirates between 2011-2012, but he only pitched 7.1 of baseball where he gave up 8 earned runs. Unfortunately, Hanarhan would throw his last pitch at just 31 years old in ‘13 after his career was cut short by multiple Tommy John surgeries.
Brock Holt put up a decent tenure in Boston. Overall, Holt posted a .272/.342/.378 line including a 94 OPS+ and a 2015 All-Star nod. While Holt wasn’t going to rival David Ortiz for the big bat in Boston, Holt recorded innings every position on the diamond aside for catcher and pitcher. Holt is currently a free agent.