Bryce Harper

Bryce Harper vs. Jameson Taillon: 2010’s top draft picks square off

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OK, so it was just one plate appearance and it ended in a walk, which is hardly especially dramatic. But it still seems like a good time to provide an update on last year’s top two picks.

Taillon, drafted second overall by the Pirates, made his pro debut for low Single-A West Virginia on Wednesday, allowing one run in two innings before a rain delay halted play for the night. He failed to record a strikeout, but according to Baseball America, he was consistently in the mid-90s with his fastball.

Harper entered the contest with three homers in his last four games, giving him a .286/.394/.554 line in 56 at-bats for low Single-A Hagerstown. He’s driven in 15 runs in 17 games.

Other top picks are off to great starts too:

Shortstop Manny Machado, the third overall pick by the Orioles, is hitting .314/.410/.571 for low Single-A Delmarva. He’s playing in the same league as Harper and Taillon.

The Mets’ Matt Harvey, who was drafted seventh overall, has yet to allow an earned run in 22 innings for Single-A St. Lucie and could be staring down a promotion to Double-A. He has a 27/8 K/BB ratio, and Florida State League hitters are batting .184 against him.

Yasmani Grandal, considered by many to be the most polished position player available in last year’s draft, is batting .310/.459/.655 with five homers in 58 at-bats for high-A Bakersfield. He was the 12th overall pick by the Reds.

Dodgers sign Rich Hill to a three-year, $48 million deal

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 18:  Rich Hill #44 of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches in the first inning against the Chicago Cubs in game three of the National League Championship Series at Dodger Stadium on October 18, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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The Dodgers have signed lefty Rich Hill to a three-year, $48 million contract.The deal was reported to be imminent over the weekend, but was finalized today following Hill’s physical.

Hill missed a good deal of time in 2016 with blister issues — and he’ll be 37-years-old on Opening Day — but when he was healthy he was fantastic, posting the best season in his 12-year career. He had a a 2.12 ERA and 129 strikeouts in 110.1 innings between the Athletics and Dodgers.

Along with a healthy Clayton Kershaw a maturing Julio Urias and Kenta Maeda, the Dodgers rotation looks to be a strength in 2017.

UPDATE: Giants agree to a deal with Mark Melancon

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 10:  Mark Melancon #43 of the Washington Nationals reacts after the final out as the Nationals defeat the Los Angeles Dodgers 8-3 in game three of the National League Division Series at Dodger Stadium on October 10, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
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UPDATE: Buster Olney reports that a deal is in place pending a physical. The financial terms are not yet known. UPDATE: Joel Sherman of the New York Post hears it’s in the four-year, $62 million range. That will make him, temporarily at least, the highest-paid closer in baseball history.

12:15 PMKen Rosenthal reports that the San Francisco Giants are close to a deal with closer Mark Melancon.

Melancon had an outstanding 2016, posting a 1.64 ERA, 2.42 FIP and a 5.42 K/BB rate in 71.1 innings while saving 47 games for the Pirates and Nationals. You may recall that the Giants had a strong interest in Melancon last summer. It was a well-founded interest given the bullpen woes which waylaid San Francisco in the second half of last season and continued on into the playoffs.

The terms of the apparently impeding deal will be known soon enough, but Rosenthal reported yesterday that Melancon was fielding offers in the four-years, $60 million range. That’s a lot for a closer, but it’ll probably look like a bargain compared to the deals signed with the other two top closers on the market, Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen. Some have speculated that Chapman could get a deal closer to $100 million than $50 million, though that seems optimistic.

What the past couple of seasons have shown, however, is that having a top bullpen will get you very, very far in Major League Baseball. Champan may have been gassed at the end of Game 7, but he was essential to the Cubs’ World Series title. Powerful bullpens gave the Royals a title in 2015 and the Indians an AL pennant this past year. A weak one was, obviously, the Giants’ achilles heel.

Their great need at the back end of the pen, according to Rosenthal’s report, is apparently about to be filled.