San Francisco Giants lefty reliever Javier Lopez was placed on waivers Monday, in an apparent attempt to receive something in return for the postseason workhorse before he hits the free agent market in the winter.
There were plenty of rumors surrounding Lopez’s name at the time of the MLB trade deadline on Aug. 1, but the Giants were unable to make a deal with any inquiring clubs. Many thought GM Brian Sabean was asking far too much for Lopez because a deal was never made. So one begs the questions: why place him on waivers now?
If at any point a team was going to part ways with one of its top prospects for Lopez, it would be just before the deadline. No team is going to change its mind on trading away a potential future star player for an even shorter rental of Lopez than at the deadline.
The reason why this may be bad for the Giants is that this move cannot do anything good for the relationship between Lopez and the Giants. Lopez must be thinking that the Giants don’t want him back for 2014, otherwise why would they risk letting him go at the end of August?
Left-handed pitchers as good as Lopez out of the bullpen don’t come around very often. With scary lefty hitters in the NL West like Adrian Gonzalez and Carlos Gonzalez, Lopez is an invaluable piece of a playoff contending bullpen. Plus, with both Gonzalez’ signed long-term with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Colorado Rockies respectively, it would be nice to keep Lopez around to face them in late-inning situations.
In his four seasons as a Giant, Lopez has a 2.32 ERA in 139.2 IP, with 3.2 WAR. The fact that many of those innings come in clutch situations with runners inherited should show that Lopez should be a priority for Sabean come the offseason. Speaking of high-pressure situations, his career postseason line with the Giants: 1.04 ERA over 8.2 innings, with a 0.49 WHIP and 10 Ks.
Oh yeah, and in two World Series-winning postseason runs with the Giants, Lopez has allowed up just one hit and one earned run.
Instead, it looks as if Sabean has more interest in trying to get something for Lopez now rather than risk losing him to free agency. Ridiculous contract demands aside, Sabean should be going after Lopez with full force before he has the chance to entertain offers from other teams. Do the Giants really want Jose Mijares taking over Lopez’s job?
If Lopez is claimed and a deal is made, hopefully Sabean doesn’t settle for a mediocre player that can’t make his way out of triple-A — the organization has plenty of those.