Quest for closer driving Giants at Meetings

Quest for closer driving Giants at Meetings

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- The Winter Meetings are the ideal spot for one-stop shopping, baseball-style. It's the optimal environment for the Giants to obtain the closer they need to anchor the bullpen that ultimately left the ballclub rudderless last season.

MLB.com and MLB Network will have wall-to-wall coverage of the 2016 Winter Meetings from the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center outside Washington, D.C. Fans can watch live streaming of all news conferences and manager availability on MLB.com, including the Rule 5 Draft on Thursday at 6 a.m. PT.

Giants manager Bruce Bochy will discuss his expectations for the 2017 club during the Meetings' first couple of days.

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Having spoken during last month's General Managers' Meetings with the representatives for the top three free-agent closers available -- Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen and Mark Melancon -- the Giants were sure to resume those talks here. And they appeared close on Monday to completing a deal with Melancon, MLB Network's Ken Rosenthal reported.

Terms of the deal, which the club has not confirmed, have not yet been reported.

They're believed to have established some traction in their dealings with Melancon, who recorded 47 saves in 51 chances and posted a 1.64 ERA in 75 appearances last season with Pittsburgh and Washington.

Having committed more than $250 million last offseason in contracts for right-handers Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija and center fielder Denard Span, the Giants appear prepared to spend what's necessary to secure a premier closer -- which could be at least $15 million annually.

General manager Bobby Evans also had said that he was exploring trades for a closer, though it's doubtful that avenue would lead San Francisco toward a relief ace as competent as Melancon, Chapman or Jansen.

Regardless of who the Giants acquire as their closer and the method they take to get him, what's certain is the necessity to solidify this role. They blew 30 saves in 2016, the most in franchise history since saves became an official statistic in 1969. That included nine defeats in games when the Giants led entering the ninth inning, another franchise mark. Five of those losses occurred in September. Moreover, they absorbed six defeats after leading by at least four runs, compared with five such setbacks in '14-15 combined.

Adding outfield help is a secondary priority but still a significant one. Rumors continue to swirl about a trade involving Detroit's J.D. Martinez, and Mets right fielder Jay Bruce has been linked to the Giants for two years.

Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.