Javier Lopez is a left-handed reliever. The New York Yankees need a left-handed reliever with Boone Logan a free agent and only Cesar Cabral and David Huff as viable left-handed relief options. According to Andy McCullough of the Newark Star-Ledger, the two sides are reported to have a mutual interest and could investigate a deal once the Yankees lock up some of their higher priorities this offseason.
The Yankees checked in on Lopez in the past when he was with the San Francisco Giants but were scared away by the Giants’ demands. Now, with Lopez being a free agent, Yankees’ GM Brian Cashman can pursue Lopez without having to surrender a wealth of prospects. Reports have said that the interest is mutual with Lopez wanting to pitch for a contender and the Yankees always a perennial contender.
Lopez is a 36-year-old left-hander who will turn 37 in July and has had some success as a reliever with several different teams. Last season with the Giants, Lopez held left-handed hitter to a .156/.208/.222 slash line and featured a superb 4.83 K/BB ratio in 98 plate appearances against lefty hitters. For his career Lopez has held left-handed hitters to a .212/.295/.301 slash line, has struck out 203 in 954 plate appearances and has allowed only nine home runs to lefties. His numbers against right-handed batters are not anywhere near as dominant as righties have hit Lopez to a .301/.386/.428 line which makes Lopez strictly a lefty-on-lefty matchup.
Lopez posted a 1.83 ERA and 1.06 WHIP last season and struck out 37 in 39.1 innings across 69 appearances. If the Yankees lose Logan, which seems likely at this point, Lopez would be a nice fallback option. There should be concerns about his age but left-handed relievers who are used sparingly generally hold up a little longer than their right-handed counterparts. However, that isn’t always the case as the Yankees found out prior to the 2011 season when 34-year-old Pedro Feliciano blew up in their faces after signing a two-year deal.
There aren’t as many miles on Lopez’s arm as Feliciano led the National League in appearances for three straight years and had appeared in over half of the New York Mets’ games in 2010 with a staggering 92 appearances. Lopez shouldn’t be as fragile but age does have to be taken into consideration.
Despite the question of age, Lopez would be a nice addition to the Yankees’ bullpen. He is said to be looking for a multi-year deal, probably something in the range of his last two-year, $8.5 million contract with a slight raise. The Yankees can’t go any higher than two years with Lopez. If the Yankees feel the need to offer a longer contract they might be better off sticking with Logan.