When I first heard there was mutual interest between the New York Yankees and Javier Lopez, my instant reaction was, “The Atlanta Braves catcher from the 90s? Why in God’s name would they be interested in him?” I soon realized they meant the lefty reliever from the San Francisco Giants (though they might also want to pursue Javy Lopez if they can’t sign Brian McCann – at age 43, he might be a better option than what the Yankees currently have behind the dish).
With Boone Logan entering free agency, the Yankees have yet another roster hole to fill: the lefty reliever. Lopez could be an effective replacement. In 2013, Lopez threw 39.1 innings out of the pen with a 1.83 ERA and held lefties to a .156 batting average. By comparison, Logan threw 39 innings in relief with a 3.23 ERA and held lefties to a .221 batting average.
Logan did have the edge in strikeouts, however, 50 to 37. Furthermore, Logan is only 29 years old, while Lopez is 36. Though Lopez was better in 2013, looking to next year, Logan’s youth means the Yankees could probably get more innings out of him, which is a huge advantage with all the question marks in the starting rotation.
Both players can handle the role of lefty specialist, so the issue could come down to money. Lopez is reportedly seeking a multi-year deal coming off a two year, $8.5 million contract with the Giants. Considering the numbers he put up this year, I doubt he’ll be willing to take a pay cut. Logan made $3.15 million in 2013; he too will likely want a raise after four years in New York, during which time he went 19-7 with a 3.38 ERA, 10.3 SO/9 and led the league with 80 appearances in 2012.
The Yankees tend to get what they can out of relievers and then cut ties with them rather than paying the money to keep them around – just ask Alfredo Aceves. But the incumbent Logan could ultimately be the cheaper option. Both Logan and Lopez have been extremely effective as lefty specialists, so the Yankees should go with whoever will sign for less money.