December 07, 2016

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) A thoughtful meeting in the Bay Area with the San Francisco brass and Mark Melancon didn't need much convincing. Not to mention he is already looking forward to talking nutrition and sport science with Hunter Pence, his former Houston teammate and yoga pal.

''I think we get a kick out of one another,'' Melancon said Tuesday, a day after reaching a $62 million, four-year contract with the Giants, the richest contract so far for a closer.

San Francisco felt right to Melancon - and the Giants needed him to stabilize the ninth inning.

''It was obvious that this organization knows how to win, and that's their top priority,'' Melancon said. ''They're set up with the Gold Glovers up the middle, Buster Posey, (Brandon) Crawford, (Joe) Panik. Being a groundball guy, that's a huge priority. Just the character, being on the other side, you could tell how much character there is in that other clubhouse, so be able to join it and join a group of guys that are veterans in winning, it was the total package in my opinion.''

He also gets to finish games following ace starters such as 2014 World Series MVP Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija. With a better bullpen this year, the Giants might have added another even-numbered year championship following titles in 2010, '12 and '14.

San Francisco blew 32 saves, including nine in September. Five relievers combined to squander Game 4 of the NL Division Series against the eventual champion Cubs, who scored four runs in the ninth inning to win 6-5.

The Giants were willing to keep their payroll above the luxury-tax threshold for a third straight year to land Melancon. After paying $1.3 million for 2015 and about $3 million more for this year, their 2017 tax payroll already projects to $196 million, with plenty of moves left to make.

''One of the prices of getting Mark was paying the tax, as well,'' said CEO Larry Baer, who will have an overall payroll of more than $200 million for the first time. ''That was a pretty easy decision because of the value we believe Mark brings to the Giants.''

Melancon has saved at least 30 games in each of the past three seasons, recording a majors-best 51 in 2015. He went 47 for 51 in save opportunities in 75 relief appearances last season with Pittsburgh and Washington, tied for second-most saves with Baltimore's Zach Britton and the Los Angeles Dodgers' Kenley Jansen.

''The man gets big outs!'' Clint Hurdle, Melancon's former manager with the Pirates, wrote in an email.

Melancon's three young children - Brooklyn, 5; Jack, 2 +; and 1-year-old Ella - are already learning about the iconic, bright orange Golden Gate Bridge and their soon-to-be new home. For Melancon, having some job security for four years means so much for his family to feel settled in a city and community.

''I saw the reason that they are such a good organization and why they want to win so much and the effort they will put in to winning,'' Melancon said. ''I'm a huge proponent

He was traded from Pittsburgh to Washington midway through last season.

''A true professional in all aspects of the game and a class act off the field,'' Hurdle said. ''Always hunting for an edge or a way to improve his craft.''

Also Tuesday, general manager Bobby Evans said the Giants were finalizing a minor league deal with right-hander Bryan Morris that includes an invitation to big league spring training. Morris was 0-0 with a 3.06 ERA in 24 appearances for the Marlins in 2016 over 17 2/3 innings.

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AP Baseball Writer Ronald Blum contributed to this report.

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