The Washington Nationals addressed a need in the bullpen, trading for Pittsburgh Pirates closer Mark Melancon .Pittsburgh will get left-handed reliever Felipe Rivero and left-handed pitching prospect Taylor Hearn in return.
Rivero, a 25-year-old lefty, is 0-3 with a 4.53 ERA this season. Hearn is a 21-year-old lefty who was the Nationals’ fifth-round pick in the 2015 amateur draft.
Melancon, 31, is 1-1 with a 1.51 ERA, 30 saves and 38 strikeouts in 45 appearances (41 2/3 innings) this season. Last season, Melancon had a career-high and major league-leading 51 saves for the Pirates.
Melancon with immediately bemuse the closer for the Nats, replacing Jonathan Papelbon who has struggled this season.
“Pittsburgh has a special place in my heart,” Melancon told reporters before heading to the airport. “My family has been treated so well. The experiences we’ve had are running through my mind. Wild-card games, big games that we’ve been in. From where we started to where we are now. It’s an honor to be a Pirate and say that we got to go through those experiences together. My teammates are best friends. That’s what you can wish for and hope for, and that came true.”
Papelbon, acquired prior to the nonwaiver trade deadline last summer to take over as closer from Drew Storen, has a 4.41 ERA in this season.
Pirates General manager Neal Huntington stressed the team remains committed to reaching the playoffs for a fourth straight season, but the opportunity to deal Melancon was too good to pass up.
“We knew full well that holding Mark Melancon would have been a good return, but at the end of the day we felt this was a better return for us,” Huntington said.