Giants get their man early at Winter Meetings

Signing Melancon on first day a boon for San Francisco

Giants get their man early at Winter Meetings

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- The Giants can consider themselves fortunate -- with emphasis on "fortune" -- to have been the first team to leap into the market for a free-agent closer at baseball's Winter Meetings, which concluded Thursday.

Having agreed with right-hander Mark Melancon on a four-year, $62 million deal Monday, the Giants sat back and watched the next big-time closer, left-hander Aroldis Chapman, come to terms on a five-year, $86 million contract.

Obviously, the Giants' timing benefited them economically. That notion could be underscored even further once right-hander Kenley Jansen, the remaining unsigned member of the formidable free-agent closers trio, reaches an agreement. It's widely anticipated that Jansen will command five years and $80 million.

Melancon on choosing the Giants

Thus, by these megabuck standards, the Giants got an excellent deal by latching onto Melancon -- a shorter commitment, albeit by only one year, with less guaranteed money involved.

Giants general manager Bobby Evans said the reported value of Chapman's contract wasn't surprising. He acknowledged the Giants were "in on" talks with Chapman's representatives, though that was primarily to monitor the market. From the beginning of the negotiation process, Giants officials have insisted, Melancon was the closer they wanted.

MLB Now: Bobby Evans

Said Evans, "Our heart and mind were really focused on one guy."

Deals done:
The Giants traded right-hander Chris Heston to the Seattle Mariners for a player to be named. Heston showed promise during a 2015 rookie season in which he finished 12-11 and no-hit the Mets. But his performances reached both extremes -- he recorded seven starts in which he allowed five earned runs or more -- which illustrated his lack of consistency.

With rookies Ty Blach, Chris Stratton, Clayton Blackburn and Tyler Beede poised to compete for a spot at the back end of San Francisco's rotation, Heston became expendable, though he gained a place in Giants history with that 17th no-hitter in franchise history on June 9, 2015, at Citi Field.

Rule 5 Draft:
The Giants neither lost nor gained any players in any phase of the Rule 5 Draft.

Goals accomplished:
The Giants absolutely, positively had to obtain a legitimate closer -- not just to anchor the bullpen, but also to avoid wasting the excellence of their starting rotation. His 1.64 ERA led all National League relievers last season, and only Craig Kimbrel (167) and Jansen (155) have saved more games since 2013 than Melancon (147).

Unfinished business:
Nothing's urgent for the Giants, though fans will continue to clamor for a offensively proven outfielder. Obtaining one would require some financial creativity, because the Giants have reached their payroll limit of approximately $200 million and would have to ask any club contemplating a deal with them to take on a significant portion of the salary they'd be assuming.

GM's bottom line:
"You lay the groundwork for the deal that can be done in February or March." -- Evans, on the long-term value of the Winter Meetings.

Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for 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.