The Pittsburgh Pirates should not trade Mark Melancon

Mark Melancon is having arguably the best year of his career. It’s one of the reasons the Pirates should not trade him away this season.

The Pirates have gotten themselves back into the playoff race with an 8-2 finish before the All-Star break. This has put the team back into the position of being a buyer at the deadline, barring a collapse before the deadline. At one point, with the Pirates under .500, the team looked like it could sell. Even now some still think the Pirates could both buy and sell. It’s an interesting pposition for the Pirates to be in.

Mark Melancon is squarely in the trade discussion surrounding the Pirates. Some think he should be traded even if the Pirates are in the playoff hunt. These people cite the fact that Melancon is going to be a free agent at the end of the year, the fact that the Pirates are almost certainly not going to re-sign him, and they believe that either Tony Watson or Neftali Feliz could take over the closer’s role until at least the end of the season.

Melancon could bring a nice return, either in prospects or in a piece that could help the Pirates this season. But unless the Pirates are completely out of the playoff race and decide to be sellers, Mark Melancon should not be traded.

For one, his importance to the bullpen is unmatched. He’s been the most consistent player all season long in a bullpen that’s been a mess up until recently. The Pirates could still be under .500 if someone else were closing games throughout the season instead of Melancon. After all, Watson or Feliz struggled at the beginning of the year, and could very well have blown games if either was counted on to be the closer.

[perfectpullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”#000000″ class=”” size=””]Some think he should be traded even if the Pirates are in the playoff hunt. These people cite the fact that Melancon is going to be a free agent at the end of the year[/perfectpullquote]

In a business sense, if the Pirates are contending and they trade Mark Melancon, the team this year isn’t going to get better. If they got prospects in return, they wouldn’t impact the major league roster this season. If they got a major league player in return, they’d still only be at the same point at best. The Pirates biggest need right now is middle relief, so if they traded Melancon to get another reliever, the team would be back in the same position they are now. If they traded for him for a bench player, they’d be adding to a strength and taking away from a weakness. There’s likely no trade that could make the Pirates better now if Melancon is the player going the other way.

And from a team standpoint, what kind of message would this send to the locker room? A team full of guys, most of whom have been together the past few years during playoff pushes, that is one of the more tightly knit teams in the league. It wouldn’t send a good message, that’s for sure. They would think that ownership and management doesn’t believe in the team. This has to factor into any consideration to trade Melancon by the front office.

I can see where the trade Melancon crowd is coming from. They’re thinking from a strictly business, long-term mindset. Why lose Melancon for nothing when the Pirates could get something for him now? But contending teams don’t always have to trade away players with expiring contracts. Sometimes, it’s more important to keep these guys and go for the championship, even if it doesn’t work out. It’s the same concept as trading for a rental player.

Luckily I don’t believe the Pirates will trade Mark Melancon, and he’ll continue to be a consistent force at the back-end of the rotation for the rest of the season.

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