Yesterday Brian Sabean said the San Francisco Giants were close to bringing back Javier Lopez, and we’re hearing the deal is close to being official: three years for $13 million.
Lopez, 36, made $4.25 million in each of his last two seasons, so this isn’t much of a raise in terms of average annual value. However, there are other obvious advantages for Lopez in this deal.
First, three years guaranteed isn’t bad for a pitcher in his late-30s, even if lefty relievers tend to stick around a while as long as they stay productive.
Second, Lopez was on pins and needles heading into the non-waiver trade deadline last season, but the Giants decided against trading any of their established soon-to-be free agents in hopes of bringing them back for 2014 and beyond. Since Hunter Pence, Tim Lincecum and Tim Hudson all reportedly received no-trade clauses, it’s possible that Lopez got one as well. That part is unknown, but if our source is correct (and that has always been the case leading up to today), the years and money are all but certain.
Since joining the Giants in 2010, Lopez has pitched in 236 games (147 1/3 innings) with a 2.26 ERA and only two home runs allowed. In 14 postseason appearances (8 2/3 innings) with the Giants, he has allowed one run, one hit and three walks. Lopez might not like the acronym, but he’s known as one of the best LOOGYs (left-handed one out guy) in baseball. In his career, lefties are hitting .212/.295/.301 against him with a 2.23 SO/BB ratio (compared to .301/.386/.428 and a 0.98 against right-handed hitters).
Lopez also has the best mound strut in the game.
“We’re committed to the pitching first,” Sabean said during yesterday’s conference call announcing the Hudson deal. Now that Lopez is back in the fold, that probably means the Giants’ next task is finding a fifth starter.