The Pirates will receive 25-year-old lefty Felipe Rivero and left-handed prospect Taylor Hearn. That's all the Pirates are getting, which potentially makes this is very nifty trade from Washington's standpoint. That's especially the case in light of what the Cubs had to give up in order to land Aroldis Chapman, another lockdown closer in his walk year.
The Nationals have been angling for a new late-inning reliever because of the struggles of 35-year-old Jonathan Papelbon, who's pitched to a 4.41 ERA and 2.31 K/BB ratio this season, both career-worst marks.
As for Melancon, the 31-year-old pending free agent boasts a 1.51 ERA and 4.22 K/BB ratio this season. He's also converted 91 percent of his save opportunities in 2016. Since refining and emphasizing his cutter on Pittsburgh's watch, Melancon has emerged as one of the top relievers in baseball: a 1.80 ERA (209 ERA+) and 5.74 K/BB ratio since the 2013 trade that brought him over from the Red Sox. Melancon is owed the balance of a $9.65 million salary for 2016.
Needless to say, Melancon leaves Pittsburgh with fond memories ...
Melancon, on his way to DC: "This has been a blast. Pittsburgh has special place in my heart. It's an honor to be a Pirate."— Rob Biertempfel (@BiertempfelTrib) July 30, 2016
As for Papelbon, he's been vocal in the past about wanting to work in save situations, but by the early looks of it there will be no emerging controversy ...
Melancon will close for the Nationals. Papelbon has been told, was understanding, according to someone familiar with the situation.— Chelsea Janes (@chelsea_janes) July 30, 2016
On the Pirates' end of things, 25-year-old Rivero has a 112 ERA+ in 98 big-league relief innings. Rivero has command of three pitches, including a changeup, and worked mostly as a starter coming up through the minors. As such, it's possible he could at some point get a look in the Pittsburgh rotation.
As for Hearn, he was a fifth-rounder in 2015, and the Pirates originally drafted him in 2012 with a 22nd-round pick (however, they failed to sign him). Here's a quick scouting report ...
Hearn is a LHP who can flirt with triple digits and gets ground balls. So good building blocks there. Control has improved, but is in LoA.— JJ Cooper (@jjcoop36) July 30, 2016
In 22 minor-league games, 15 of which have been starts, Hearn has logged an ERA of 4.32 while striking out 84 batters in 77 innings.