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Mark Melancon becomes the highest-paid reliever ever

Division Series - Los Angeles Dodgers v Washington Nationals - Game Five Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

The Giants have announced that they’ve signed former Pirates closer Mark Melancon, reportedly to a four-year, $62 million contract.

Congratulations to Melancon, whose deal will, at least for now, make him the highest-paid reliever ever, easily eclipsing Jonathan Papelbon’s $50 million deal. (Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen both look likely to beat Melancon later this offseason, so his title could be short-lived.)

$62 million strikes me as a ton to pay Melancon for his age-32 to age-35 seasons, and I’m glad the Pirates aren’t doing it, but he’s been terrific for two straight years since I started jingling the warning bells about him, so what do I know? And anyway, the incredible prospect cost of pitchers like Chapman and Andrew Miller on the trade market last summer strongly suggests that valuations of elite relief pitchers are increasing.

Of course, in those conditions, it’s somewhat surprising that the Pirates couldn’t get more for Melancon than they did when they shipped him to Washington. My thinking at the time was that the Pirates weren’t likely to get a terrific package as the Yankees did for Chapman or the Indians did for Miller, because Melancon didn’t have the elite strikeout ability those pitchers have, or the elite velocity Chapman has. Melancon getting $62 million on the open market suggests that the Pirates should have been able to get a top prospect in return for him, though. As interesting as both Felipe Rivero and Taylor Hearn are, they weren’t top-100-type prospects.