McCullough: Yankees, Javier Lopez have “expressed mutual interest”


Via Andy McCullough: The Yankees and free agent left-hander Javier Lopez have “expressed mutual interest” during preliminary talks. Agent Barry Meister expects to have more serious negotiations later in the offseason, after New York addresses some more pressing needs. “That’s our goal, is to make sure that Javy plays with a winner, and plays with a team that’s a contender … That’s the most important thing to him: He wants the innings to be meaningful,” said Meister.

Lopez, 36, has been one of the most dominant lefty relievers in baseball over the last few seasons. He held same-side batters to a .156/.208/.222 (.197 wOBA) batting line in 2013 and a .212 wOBA with a 25.4% strikeout rate and a 63.5% ground ball over the last three years, all with the Giants. Lopez is a true specialist with a low arm slot, mid-80s fastball, and mid-70s slider, so he’s completely unusable against righties. They crush him. He helped San Francisco to two World Series titles, so he’s pitched in big games and pennant races and all that.

With payroll coming down, I figured lefty reliever would be a good spot for the Yankees to save some cash and go cheap. Grab some Clay Rapada types off waivers and as minor league free agents to compete with Cesar Cabral and David Huff (and Vidal Nuno?) in Spring Training and go from there. It’s good they touched base with Lopez and his agent understands they could circle back if there’s some extra money lying around after the heavy offseason lifting is done though.

Categories : Asides, Hot Stove League
  • CashmanNinja

    I admit that I do like Javier Lopez, but I think a LOOGY would be a bit of a luxury at this point. We have more important things to use cash on at the moment if we’re serious about getting under $189 mil. Lopez won’t be terribly expensive, but he’d be costly for a reliever. He could probably get 3/$12 and I think $4 mil a year is too much to invest in someone who can ONLY pitch against lefties. He is great against lefties, but if you spend that much for a reliever then I’d like it to be someone who’s good against lefties AND righties. I hate having a LOOGY in the pen because they burn out your pen too much if games go into extra innings. I’d MUCH rather try Nuno out in the role because he’s been stretched out as a starter and could give us 2 innings here and there — or more if need be. Lopez is good, but it wouldn’t be a wise use of money at this point in time.

    • Jonathan

      For what it’s worth Randy Choate got $7.5MM over 3 years so that’s not bad. We definitely need bullpen help and you all remember what it was like between Stanton and Logan. I’m just hopeful they realize they can’t be competitive without going over $189MM and just get everything they need. There are some signs pointing to that considering they gave Jeter $12MM and are still looking at acquiring a starting SS. In the world where they Yankees use the biggest advantage they have and buy what they need, he makes a lot of sense. Of course in reality they need McCann/Cano/one of Drew or Peralta/2 of Beltran Granderson or Choo/Tanaka/Kuroda/a reclamation SP w/ at least decent upside/a late inning reliever etc.

    • FLYER7

      No problem with this at all as long as they “circle back” once the heavy lifting is done (i.e. shortstop/3B, 400 innings, Beltran or Choo, catcher, Tanaka)

      • Havok9120

        Exactly. If this is making contact and laying groundwork in case there’s money left over at the end of the offseason, no problem whatsoever.

  • RetroRob

    Butter track record, but sounds like a more expensive version of Clay Rapada.

    • CashmanNinja

      Which is why I think it’d be better to use the money elsewhere. Nuno may not have the track record, but he’d be a better option in terms of value. I just don’t see the point of being so strict with the upcoming cap, but then waste money on a LOOGY. Perhaps I just have a dislike for lefty specialists ever since Marte screwed us.

      • Jonathan

        Feliciano screwed us. Marte saved us in 2009. He was just misused in 2008 too. He was throwing multiple innings and facing a ton of righties. Feliciano getting $8MM not to throw a pitch was what really hurt. I agree that a LOOGY is a bad place to spend money if we’re 100% into the $189MM plan but if we’re just going to be the regular Yankees he’s a solid fit.

    • BFDeal

      That butter track record will improve his roll in NY.

      • RetroRob

        Damn it. Now I want a buttered roll!

      • Robinson Tilapia

        That was only margarinely better.

        • CashmanNinja


          • Rooting for U.S. Steel

            Oh, lordy, it’s spreading.

        • BFDeal


  • qwerty

    Forget about Javier Lopez, what about Javier Vazquez?!

    • Pisano

      God forbid.

  • Cesar “Stairs” Cabral

    Puto Javy Lopez. He just old catcher.

    RIP qwerty. That guy dumb as shit.

  • nycsportzfan

    We’ve seen both sides of guys like Clay Rapada. When you get those guys, you never know when the bad side will show up. I’d like a more proven lefty in the pen which Lopez is. GOod idea to touch base with the lefty and hopefully a deal will be done. Then they can go get grant balfour and have a nice little nucleus in the pen.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Beware of supposedly big bullpen “names,” although I agree both those guys would be relatively safe bets.

      • CashmanNinja

        Javier Lopez is about as good as it gets when it comes to a LOOGY. He simply sucks against righties though. And Balfour is a good, but not great guy. He’s a big name, but one that could fit (in my opinion). Although I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want Joe Nathan. If they could get him on a 1-2 year deal for a reasonable amount then I think he could be a great guy to replace Mo for the short term. He’s established, has tons of AL experience, and proved he’s fully recovered from his arm injury a few seasons ago.

  • Mac

    I am also very apprehensive of spending $3-4 mill on a LOOGY if they’re sticking to $189 (of course maybe they are not). At the same time we are sort of assuming that any holes have to be filled expensively through FA in part because we have little idea of who is available at what cost on the trade market (or what FAs and non-tender guys might be undervalued by the market… I mean I have never thought of the possibility before Mike pointed it out, but imagine getting Freese in a Russell Martin situation at around $4 million cash only). If they manage to fill some other holes on the cheap, they might have plenty of space to add someone like Lopez.

    Another consideration with the potentially hard budget is that if you do the heavy lifting and still have $3-5 million in slack, you might be better off getting a LOOGY who is really good at what he does than a poor veteran position player who you don’t actually think is much of an upgrade over a young guy on the roster or a replacement guy.

  • tommy cassella

    why get a pitcher that can’t get get right handers out. it makes no sense to me.

    • Mac

      Because he can get LH hitters out at a very high rate and you carry about 7 RPs on most 25-man rosters.

      Ideally you’d have 7 guys who get all sorts of hitters out at high rates and don’t allow many extra-base hits to the guys they let on. However, that’s a lot easier said than done. Usually the trade-off is not between a LOOGY and a stud RP who gets everyone out. It’s between a LOOGY and a mediocre RP who is ok at getting people out (and a RHRP who throws multiple innings might actually stink against LHH, but it gets masked a little because he’s used in low leverage situations and LHH are rarer than RHH). If you already have a guy or two who can soak up innings while at least not getting crushed, then a good LOOGY adds something valuable to your roster as he can get key outs in key situations at a relatively high rate. Getting David Ortiz or Chris Davis out with two men on in the 8th inning of a close game at a significantly higher rate than another RP is arguably a lot more valuable a skill to have on your team than being able to give up “only” 2 ERs in 4 IP of a game where the team was likely already up or down by a bunch of runs for that mop-up guy to even get in the game.