The San Francisco Giants committed unprecedented money in their attempt to offset performance lapses when they announced the signing of free agent closer Mark Melancon.
A source confirmed that the contract Melancon signed to play for the Giants was for $62 million, which included a signing bonus of $20 million, with $12 million of that paid up front.
This deal also includes a 2017 salary of $4 million, a 2018 salary of $10 million, at which time Melancon has an opt out clause in the deal. If the stopper opts into the contract’s final two years he will received $14 million annually.
The contract’s average value annually is $15.5 million and that total figure has established a new high for a relief pitchers.
Both Mariano Rivera the leader in all-time saves, who had a salary that reached $15 million and Jonathan Papelbon, who has a $50 million contract for 4 years were eclipsed by the Melancon deal.
Melancon will likely not be baseball’s highest all-time paid reliever that long as Kenley Jansen and Aroldis Chapman, two top closers are expected to sign deals that are even more lucrative.
The fact, that this season very few top closers were available and the demand was high for those available, was what helped to increase the contract of Melancon.
That and the near desperate need the Giants had to sign a top closer, who could not just protect leads in the ninth inning but provide stability for the other relievers the Giants have, whose roles became ill-defined during the second half of last season, helped increase the contract signed by Melancon.
The Giants lost faith in relievers Sergio Romo and Santiago Casilla after 30 saves were blown during the 2016 season, which was the most in the history of the franchise since saves were established as an official stat during 1969.
The blown saves included 9 losses in games where San Francisco led at the start of the ninth inning. Five of the losses took place during September. In addition, they had six losses after they led by 4 or more runs, compared to 5 similar setbacks combined during 2014 and 2015.
Melancon will become the player that will cure those ills. An All-Star three times, he has pitched for the Nationals, Pirates, Red Sox, Astros and Yankees.
The Giants tried to obtain Melancon last season from Pittsburgh, but he was traded to Washington instead.
Melancon has 168 saves during his career, with a personal high in 2015 of 51. Over the past two seasons, he has converted 98 of the 104 save opportunities he has faced.