D-backs ink reliever Melancon to 2-year deal

December 1st, 2021

PHOENIX -- The D-backs took their first step toward improving their bullpen Wednesday by signing free agent closer to a two-year contract that will pay him $6 million in 2022 and 2023.

The deal includes a mutual option of $5 million for 2024 with a $2 million buyout.

During the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign, Melancon looked more like the pitcher who came to prominence with the Pirates in 2013 as he finished with a 2.78 ERA in 23 appearances for the Braves. Prior to the ’21 season, Melancon signed as a free agent with the Padres, with whom he led the Majors with 39 saves and turned in a 2.23 ERA.

"He's a proven backend bullpen guy," D-backs GM Mike Hazen said. "We talked about at the beginning of the offseason wanting to rebuild our 'pen. You know, it was a major issue for us last year and we've done some things on the edges and we're going to continue to do some things as we move through the offseason. But getting a guy in this spot [closer] was important for us."

While a closer might seem like a luxury on a team that lost 110 games, Hazen pointed to a couple of reasons for the move.

First, the D-backs had one of the worst records in baseball in one-run games with a 10-31 mark, so an improvement in that mark would certainly help their overall record.

Second, Hazen is determined to improve the team in whatever ways he can this offseason so that he doesn't have to go through another season like 2021.

"I don't know if we're going to pour 30 to 35 wins onto our win total with some of the work that we do this offseason," Hazen said. "But I'm not going to stop from trying to put a better team on the field that's going to win more games and cause more problems for the division, hopefully to our great benefit in the end. You know, I'm tired of hearing people tell us that 'we didn't think you guys were as bad as your record was.' We need to go out there and prove those things."

Melancon, who will be 37 when the 2022 regular season begins, thinks the D-backs are a lot closer to contending than their record last year would indicate.

"I got to play against the Diamondbacks all year last year starting in Spring Training," Melancon said. "I got to see that there is a lot of talent. I don't think that the record is indicative of the talent level that's here. It's sometimes hard to see that when a bad record shows up, but playing against them as many games as we did, I could see through that pretty easily."

The D-backs first made contact with Melancon early in the offseason, but it was just over the last five days to a week that the talks intensified, and a deal was struck.

The multi-year nature of the contract, Hazen said, reflected the D-backs' plan to be competitive over the next few years.