Mark Melancon is "out there for the taking" in a trade, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman writes. Melancon joins Aroldis Chapman, Craig Kimbrel and even perhaps Andrew Miller as closers who could be available. Later in the column, Heyman also notes that Pedro Alvarez is "on the block," which comes as little surprise.
As I noted last month, the Pirates should probably at least consider trading Melancon this winter. They've only got one more year of control left, and Melancon's performance last year (Reliever of the Year award aside) was shakier than it might initially seem. Even if we stipulate that whatever was going on with his velocity in the first several weeks of the season is unlikely to happen again (which might or might not be true), his strikeout and walk numbers were worse last year than in 2014. He's also now 30.
Melancon is getting expensive, too, although I don't see that as the main issue -- the $10 million or so he's likely to get next season is a lot, but it's reasonable given his performance record. The Pirates shouldn't trade Melancon as a salary dump, and if the Pirates deal him and don't get a significant return, I'll be annoyed.
As Pat Lackey points out in a series of agitated tweets this afternoon, though, the Pirates didn't get where they are by sitting on expiring assets like Melancon. They got Melancon in the first place, obviously, because they were willing to trade a good closer who was approaching free agency.
This isn't to say the Pirates should trade Melancon. Maybe, with Chapman and Kimbrel and whoever else on the market (and with a GM population that, as Heyman notes, increasingly believes it's unwise to get too attached to closers), they won't be able to get good talent in return. In that case, it would obviously be reasonable for the Pirates to keep Melancon and enjoy him for one more year before he hits free agency. But if they can find a trade that works for them, this could be a good opportunity to sell high.