The baseball winter meetings kicked off with a bang Monday when the San Francisco Giants signed free agent closer Mark Melancon to a deal that shattered —- not broke —- the previous record for a contract for a reliever.
So let's take those sentences one at a time. Prior to the Melancon deal, Jonathon Papplebon's four-year, $50 million deal with the Philadelphia Philles was the richest ever. So Melancon —- one of the top relievers in baseball over the last five years —- killed it. He's saved 194 games during that span and pitched at least 70 innings in each of those seasons. That's a lot for a closer. And, while he has a career 2.60 ERA, he's only had an ERA above 1.90 once in the last five seasons, and 2.23 (in 2015) isn't exactly hateful.
That leads us to the second part of the statement, given this news:
Six years!?! Woah. Now, it's true you can't teach a 103 MPH fastball, but there's no human way (unless he's alien) that he's throwing that hard during his age 36 season —- which would be the last year of this insanity. Not only that, you know he's asking for more money than Melancon, so a lengthy deal like that should probably put him north of $100 million.
Kenley Jansen —- the third stud reliever —- has got to be salivating too. He's a strikeout machine (632K in 408.2 innings over the last five years, with 180 saves) who's going to get paid.
It's great to be a reliever.
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