Pittsburgh Pirates General Manager Neal Huntington commented on the trade involving Mark Melancon and how the Pirates plan on replacing the Pirates All Star.

Pittsburgh Pirates GM Neal Huntington spoke with host Greg Brown during his weekly appearance on the team’s flagship station today.

Huntington primarily spoke on the recent deal involving Mark Melancon heading to the Nationals for reliever Felipe Rivero and pitching prospect Taylor Hearn. The Pirates GM also spoke about reaction to the trade and how the Pirates plan to move on.

On decision to trade Melancon

When asked by Brown about the details regarding the trade, Huntington had this to say:

“This was not an easy decision with what Mark Melancon has done for us in the clubhouse, in the community, and the person that he is,” Huntington said. “We knew that one of our good options would be to hold Mark Melancon, have him help us fulfill our goal of being one of those five playoff teams at the end of the season with a chance to win a World Series and then wish him well as he went into free agency.”

“As we worked through the trade market, we revisited clubs that had interest in him in the offseason,” he added. “There were a handful of clubs in and at the end of the day, we felt this was our best return and we felt that this was a better option than just holding Mark and just letting him walk at the end of the year via free agency.”

On history of replacing closers

When discussing the Melancon deal, Huntington also talked about continuing the recent trends of replacing all star closers with other capable star relievers.

“Our goal in this trade was to continue the chain of contribution,” Huntington said. “We traded an all star caliber closer [Joel Hanrahan] for Mark Melancon in December of 2012 and now we have traded an all star caliber closer in Mark Melancon. When we acquired those players in Hanrahan and Melancon, they were not all star caliber players. They were unproven major league relievers, but we saw things in them.”

“It this situation we felt like we were dealing from a hand of strength because we have confidence and our club has confidence in Tony Watson as a potential closer, in Neftali Feliz and his ability to step up and go from the seventh inning to the eighth inning and we add Felipe Rivero, who threw three scoreless innings against us in Washington.”

On Felipe Rivero and Taylor Hearn

“He [Rivero] has the weapons to become a very good back end reliever, but right now he fills a need for us in those leverage situations in the seventh inning or in the eighth inning when Tony is not available and Clint [Hurdle] goes to Neftali, ” Huntington said. “Plus, we have five more years of potential contribution from Felipe Rivero and then add to it, we add a young, what we believe to be an under the radar, very athletic, very large, loose armed, upside starting pitcher in Taylor Hearn.”

Rivero is listed as a bullpen option for the Pirates this afternoon against the Milwaukee Brewers, while Hearn, who is now listed as the Pirates 28th best prospect according to MLB.com, will report to the West Virginia Power, the Pirates Class-A affiliate.

On reaction to trade

When asked about some reaction to the deal, Huntington addressed rumors regarding a certain return in the deal and the overall feeling from those in and outside of the organization.

“The only pushback i’ve really gotten is that I guess somebody tweeted that we had said that we were looking for an Aroldis Chapman type return and that couldn’t be anything further from the truth,” he said. “We never said that we were looking for that type of return. We knew that we had Mark Melancon, we knew that Mark Melancon was one of the better closers in the game and we knew that we were looking for the return that we felt compelled.”

‘Those that understand the business and the challenge of working in a small market feel like we did a nice job, those that believed Mark Melancon was our best option have not liked the deal very much.”


Jose Negron

Jose Negron is a 22 year old journalist from the North Huntingdon area. A recent graduate of California University of Pennsylvania, Jose has written for Rumbunter and Pirates Breakdown for the past year. He is the former Editor in Chief and Sports Editor of Cal U's campus newspaper, the Cal Times. He also covers high school sports for the Mon Valley Independent and serves as a contributor for Pittsburgh Sporting News, covering the Pirates. During the summer of 2015, he also interned with TribLive Radio, writing for their online blog, helping in the production of various radio shows and even appearing on the air.