According to FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal, the Nationals have acquired All-Star closer Mark Melancon from the Pittsburgh Pirates. Rosenthal reported just a few hours ago that the Nationals were focusing in on him.
In exchange for Melancon, the Pirates acquired two players: left-handers Felipe Rivero and Taylor Hearn.
Melancon, 31, was an All-Star this year, his third appearance in the past four seasons. In 45 games, he is 1-1 with a 1.51 ERA and a 38-9 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 41 2/3 innings pitched. He also has 30 saves in 33 appearances.
The right-hander is expected to become a free agent at the end of this season. He was arbitration eligible for his third and final time last offseason and signed a one-year, $9.65 million deal with Pittsburgh.
Melancon definitely fills a big need for the Nationals, who are struggling to close out games at the moment. Closer Jonathan Papelbon has struggled as of late, posting a 7.36 ERA in his last 13 games. He effectively had already lost the closer's spot.
While the Pirates are in contention this season, Melancon was expendable for them. They feel as if they have other options for the 9th inning, and considering the price for relief pitching, it would make sense for them to trade him.
As for their return, Rivero should be able to help out in the big league bullpen now, which makes this a good two-way trade for both contending teams.
The 25-year-old lefty is under team control through 2021 and has shown decent results in his big league career. This season, Rivero has a 4.53 ERA and a 53-15 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 49 2/3 innings pitched. He sees his fastball sit in the 95 MPH range while also mixing in a slider and change-up.
Hearn, on the other hand, is still a few years away from the Majors. At 21, he is still pitching in Class A, where he has a 3.18 ERA and a 31-7 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 22 2/3 innings pitched (8 games; 2 starts). He was listed as the Nationals' No. 27 prospect on MLB.com.