So Mark Melancon was a rental after all. Washington Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo did not give up any high-end prospects for Melancon last July, when he acquired the right-hander from Pittsburgh, but he did send hard-throwing left-hander Felipe Rivero and minor league lefty Taylor Hearn to the Pirates in return for what ended up being 30 appearances, 29 2⁄3 innings and 17 saves from Melancon.
This afternoon, the veteran closer reportedly agreed on what is believed to be a 4-year/$62M free agent deal with the San Francisco Giants:
Source: Melancon with #SFGiants is indeed four years, $62M.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 5, 2016
If the Nationals, as reported by Washington Post writer Jorge Castillo, were willing to go to four years for Melancon, but offered less than $60M in the end, as Castillo was told by a “person with direct knowledge of the situation”, what chance is there that Rizzo and Co. in the Nationals’ front office are going to now turn to the likes of Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen, the other highly sought after closers on the market this winter?
Or is there no comparison there, with Jansen and Chapman in a different league than Melancon?
If nats miss on melancon (who's close w/ SF via @Ken_Rosenthal ) perhaps more likely they step up for sale, cutch— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 5, 2016
Do they look at the next tier of free agent relievers (like Greg Holland, Santiago Casilla or Neftali Feliz)?
Do they pursue trades for the likes of Wade Davis (a rumored reliever of interest), A.J. Ramos or Alex Colome, both of whom are believed to be available via trade this winter as the WaPost reporter noted?
Here are the teams in on Kenley Jansen: Nationals Marlins Yankees Giants Cubs Dodgers https://t.co/ZaI6CLixjl— Jim Bowden (@JimBowden_ESPN) December 5, 2016
What initially came to mind after the news that Melancon signed with the Giants were Washington Post columnist Thomas Boswell’s comments in last week’s chats about Rizzo’s history of interest in Chapman, including the time they tried to sign the hard-throwing left-hander when he first left Cuba only to come in second in the bidding war to the Cincinnati Reds.
“Some players, that get away, stick in a team's craw,” Boswell wrote, after noting that Melancon seemed a more likely target with Chapman and Jansen rumored to be in line for 5-year/$90M-ish deals.
But would Rizzo once again consider going after the “one that got away”?
“They imagine what ‘might have been’ if they'd gotten him,” Boswell wrote, “and, when he's available once more they just can't bear not to pursue the Do Over.”
Rizzo did go hard after Chapman back in 2010.
“‘We had the second-highest offer on the table,’" he told reporters including WaPost writer Chico Harlan at the time, who noted that Rizzo, “... paused and added, ‘We thought it was first.’”
Their offer went beyond $20M, but the Reds signed him to a 6-year/$30.25M deal.
“At a certain price point, the risk-reward wasn't worth it," Rizzo added.
"We went up to a price point I was comfortable with, and at the end of the day we fell a bit short."
But, according to former team president Stan Kasten, Rizzo, “... liked him as much as any young left-hander he's ever seen.”
This time around, Chapman is reportedly looking for a six-year deal... according to what he told ESPN writer Marly Rivera:
“I just spoke to Aroldis Chapman about his contract negotiations; told me he has not evaluated any offers yet and will do so this week. Chapman: "The only thing I have expressed is that I would like a six-year contract. I know that doesn't mean that I will get it, but that's what I would like to sign. There are rumors out there that I requested $100 million and that's not true at all. I believe he who deserves something, does not need to demand it."
Is there any chance the Nationals get into the bidding for Chapman again, or try for Jansen? Is a trade more likely at this point? Or do they go with in-house options (like Koda Glover or Blake Treinen?), in a season that’s seen as a win-now campaign for the Nationals, who’ve won the division title in three of the last five years before losing in the NLDS each time?
UPDATE: Here’s what Mike Rizzo had to say about the Nationals’ options when it comes to adding relief help in an MLB Network Radio interview this afternoon live at the 2016 Winter Meetings:
“We’re going to look at all the different avenues to get better. Obviously there are a handful of elite relievers on the free agent market, but there is a depth of good relievers also that I think could help. There are different ways to acquire bullpen help, back of the bullpen help, you could go the trade route or the free agent route, the good thing is there’s a good depth of relief pitching and there are still some elite relievers left.”