Saturday, December 16, 2017
Sports

Nats acquire new closer in trade with Pirates

SAN FRANCISCO — Pirates GM Neal Huntington tried to tell Mark Melancon he had been traded. And tried. And tried.

"I felt bad because I missed his call three times because my phone was on silent, so I woke up to that," the reliever said Saturday after he awakened from his nap and learned he had been dealt to the Nationals.

Washington sent RH reliever Felipe Rivero and LHP prospect Taylor Hearn to Pittsburgh for Melancon, who supplants struggling Jonathan Papelbon as the Nationals' closer. Melancon is expected to join the team today.

Melancon, 31, has converted 30 of 33 saves with a 1.51 ERA this season and joins his fifth organization in eight years.

Once considered a possible successor to Mariano Rivera when he broke into the majors with the Yankees in 2009, Melancon said during the All-Star break he knew a trade was possible, given his contract status.

The move comes as the Pirates find themselves on the fringe of the wild-card race. While GM Neal Huntington stressed the team remains committed to reaching the playoffs for a fourth straight season, the opportunity to deal Melancon for two young arms with friendly long-term contracts was too good to pass up.

LHP Tony Watson will take over as the Pirates' closer, manager Clint Hurdle said

TESTS FOR DAVIS: Royals closer Wade Davis flew back to Kansas City have an MRI exam on his sore right (pitching) forearm. The former Ray was on the DL in early July with a forearm strain. Also, the Royals acquired OF Billy Burns from the A's for OF prospect Brett Eibner. Burns, 26, who has been playing at Triple-A Nashville, hit .234 with a .270 on-base percentage, a .303 slugging percentage and 14 steals in 17 attempts in 73 games with Oakland this season. Eibner, 27, batted .231/.286/.423 in 26 games for the Royals. The A's also placed LHP Rich Hill on the 15-day disabled list with a blister on his left middle finger.

BRAVES-PADRES TRADE: In a deal of bad contracts, Atlanta acquired OF Matt Kemp from San Diego for OF Hector Olivera. Kemp, 31, has three years left on an eight-year, $160 million deal he signed in 2012. Olivera, also 31, has four years left on a six-year, $62.5 million deal he signed in 2015 and was suspended for 82 games in April under Major League Baseball's domestic violence policy.

BREWERS: C Jonathan Lucroy was not in the starting lineup as the team considered trade possibilities. GM David Stearns and manager Craig Counsell met before the game and decided not to start Lucroy. "He's progessing on something," Counsell said of Stearns. "We thought it best that he not be in the lineup." Lucroy, a two-time All-Star, is batting .300 with a .360 on-base percentage and a .484 slugging percentage in 94 games.

GIANTS: RF Hunter Pence was activated from the disabled list after missing 48 games with a right hamstring strain.

MARINERS: Former Rays RHP Nathan Karns went on the 15-day disabled list with a lower back strain. RHP Cody Martin was recalled from Triple-A Tacoma.

METS: 3B Jose Reyes went on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left ribcage muscle. Former Rays OF Justin Ruggiano signed a major-league deal and was in the starting lineup.

YANKEES: DH Alex Rodriguez was in the lineup against the Rays for the first time in a week, looking to snap a 2-for-22 slump.

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