Before the end of January, an under the radar move went down, as Braves rookie Ian Anderson changed his number from #48 to #36. No big deal, right? The stud right-hander was called up in the middle of last season and probably didn’t have the opportunity to choose the number he wanted.
Normally, I would say that is correct; however, this is about who occupied the #36 last year for the Braves — Mark Melancon, Atlanta’s closer and current free-agent. Could this be a sign that The Shark will be taking his talents elsewhere in 2021?
It certainly could be, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say that their is no correlation between the two. Judging by the history of Melancon’s jersey numbers, it doesn’t appear that he has much of a preference. He wore #39 as a rookie with the Yankees, #54 with the Astros, #37 with the Red Sox, #35 with the Pirates, #43 with the Nationals, and #41 with the Giants before finally landing on #36 with the Braves. If anything, this tells us Melancon takes some kind of enjoyment in mixing his number up. Perhaps he simply wants as many unique jerseys as possible.
Alex Anthopoulos made it clear that the Braves backloaded Ozuna’s contract so that they would have more money to round out their roster. They still aim to add to their bench and bullpen. While there are many capable relief options remaining, Melancon is among the best of the bunch and bringing him back on a short-term deal makes way too much sense. I wouldn’t read into Anderson taking his jersey number too much. If the two sides have mutual interest, I expect Melancon to be back in Atlanta for the 2021. season.