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Washington Nationals Rumors: Pirates looking for Aroldis Chapman-type return for Mark Melancon?

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If Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo wouldn’t part with the prospects it took to get Aroldis Chapman, would he put together a Chapman-type deal for the Pirates’ Mark Melancon?

Pittsburgh Pirates v Washington Nationals Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

In the aftermath of the pursuit of Aroldis Chapman, who was dealt from the New York Yankees to the Chicago Cubs, Washington Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo told 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s The Sports Junkies that he was, of course, disappointed to once again miss out on the hard-throwing left-hander he’d been after since Chapman first left Cuba.

He was disappointed, that is, until he saw what the Cubs gave up to add Chapman’s 100+ mph fastball to the back of their bullpen.

"I was disappointed till I saw what the deal was and there was no way we were going to come close to matching that deal for a two-month rental,” Rizzo explained.

“The Yankees did a heck of a job, they got a great deal from the Cubs. The Cubs obviously wanted him worse than we did and they got themselves one of the elite closers in the game, but they gave up a king's ransom to get him and that's part of their plan. They're smart people over there and they knew what they were doing, but we, like I said, we like the team that we have. Are we looking to upgrade? Of course. But we're built here to sustain competitive balance and to be a really good team not only this year but going forward, and to me, we won't make a deal like that. I can't justify giving away that much young talent that's going to help us down the road for two months of a rental in a position that we could upgrade, but that we're still one of the top bullpens in the league.

"The Cubs got what they wanted, the Yankees got what they wanted and we bowed out when the price got too high and the Cubs laid their chips on the table and went in and got the player that they wanted."

With Chapman off the table, rumors persisted, tying the Nationals to a number of reportedly available relievers including Kansas City Royals’ closer Wade Davis, the Yankees’ Andrew Miller, Chicago White Sox’ closer David Robertson, and yesterday, Pittsburgh Pirates’ closer Mark Melancon.

The asking price for each, of course, is likely to be steep, especially with Davis, Miller and Roberstson under contract beyond this season.

Davis’s contract includes a $10M club option for 2017 or a $2.5M buyout.

Miller has two years and $18M remaining on the 4-year/$36M free agent deal he signed with the Yankees in 2015.

Robertson, who’s signed through 2018, has $25M left on the 4-year/$46M free agent contract he signed with the Sox.

Melancon’s set to become a free agent after this season, so he too would be a two-month rental.

According to FanRag’s Jon Heyman, the Pirates are willing to deal the 31-year-old right-hander, who’s put up a 1.51 ERA, a 2.65 FIP, nine walks (1.94 BB/9), 38 Ks (8.21 K/9) and a .203/.252/.265 line against in 45 games 41 ⅔ IP, over which he’s saved 30 games, but it’s going to cost whichever team wants the soon-to-be free agent.

“The Pittsburgh Pirates might be willing to consider a trade for All-Star closer Mark Melancon,” Heyman wrote this afternoon, citing an as-always anonymous source, “but only if they can get an ‘[Aroldis] Chapman type deal.”

Is this the point at which Rizzo hangs up the phone?

Chicago dealt shortstop Gleyber Torres, ranked No. 1 on Baseball America's list of the Cubs' top prospects, outfielders Billy McKinney (No. 7 on BA's list) and Rashad Crawford, 22, who was described Yankees’ GM Brian Cashman as a talented "lottery ticket" in search of consistency after the deal, and Adam Warren, a one-time Yankees' right-hander who’s started and relieved, in return for two months of Chapman.

Is there any way the Nats are going to give up that type of package for two months of Melancon if they weren’t willing to part with the prospects it would have taken to get Chapman?

The Pirates reportedly want a set-up reliever, presumably a major league-ready one, included as part of any deal.

What if Melancon considered an extension? Is there any reason for the veteran reliever to forego an opportunity to test the free agent market this winter though?

Pittsburgh Tribune writer Rob Biertempfel talked to Melancon about the rumors on Friday night and the right-hander seemed to accept the possibility that he might be dealt with free agency looming and other options available to close in the Pirates’ bullpen.

“I get the business side of things,” Melancon said.

“If they were to trade me, that doesn’t mean they would be giving up on the season. They could add value and still have Tony [Watson] and [Neftali] Feliz, [Jared] Hughes and all the rest of the bullpen. So I can see all sides of it.”

Just how desperate are the Nationals?

They pieced together the eighth and ninth innings last night in their 4-1 win over the Giants, with five different relievers used to get six outs.

Nats’ skipper Dusty Baker, who talked before the win about needing to find out if anything is physically wrong with struggling reliever Jonathan Papelbon, was asked after the game if Papelbon had been available to pitch.

Papelbon, 35, was removed from the series opener on Thursday night after putting two runners on with one out in a 4-1 game and struggling with his command while his velocity dipped noticeably.

Baker said Papelbon was not available last night.

"He was unavailable tonight. From the recent workload and plus it hadn't been coming out the way that we're used to seeing it come out."

Just how desperate are the Nationals right now?