The Pittsburgh Pirates have one of the best bullpens in baseball. The Pirates’ bullpen, otherwise known as the “Shark Tank”, currently owns the second-best ERA among NL bullpens, just behind the Atlanta Braves. Pirates GM Neal Huntington has had a knack for creating good bullpens the past few seasons without spending a lot of money in the process.
This past offseason, the Pirates re-signed setup man Jason Grilli to a two-year, $6.75 million deal. Just a few weeks later, Huntington struck a deal with the Boston Red Sox to send closer Joel Hanrahan and infielder Brock Holt in exchange for Mark Melancon, Jerry Sands, Ivan De Jesus and Stolmy Pimentel.
The Pirates then decided to name Grilli the closer, and newly-acquired Melancon became the new setup man for the Pirates.
The problem with trading Hanrahan this past offseason was that his value was at its highest during the season. The Pirates waited too long to move him. While the deal looked okay at the time, it now appears that the Pirates won the trade and it’s not even close. Melancon was an All-Star and Pimentel is dominating in the minor leagues, quickly becoming a part of the Pirates’ long-term plans.
So, should the Pirates do the same thing this offseason regarding their closer? Should they trade Grilli while he still has some value? I say yes. An interesting question was raised today on Twitter: Grilli or Melancon, who would you rather move?
I would rather move Grilli, simply because he’s already in his late 30s and Melancon still has four years of team control left. If Grilli can return from the DL sometime in September and prove that he can still pitch well, he will have plenty of trade value over the offseason because of his incredibly team-friendly contract.
I don’t know what the Pirates can get for the veteran pitcher, but it would probably be of higher value than return in the Hanrahan deal. I realize Melancon was in the Hanrahan deal, but his perceived value at the time of the trade wasn’t very high.