The Cardinals officially signed free agent infielder Felipe Lopez to a one-year contract today. The deal is worth $1MM in base salary, plus easily attainable performance bonuses that could be worth up to $1.2MM. Lopez fired Scott Boras recently, and is now represented by the Beverly Hills Sports Council.
The Cardinals have been linked to Lopez for much of the offseason, despite recent reports that the team was unlikely to add a free agent infielder. Talks between the Cardinals and the utility infielder had intensified over the last couple days.
One likely factor contributing to St. Louis' increased interest in Lopez is shortstop Brendan Ryan's recovery from right wrist surgery. Ryan is attempting to work his way back to full health by Opening Day, but still can't throw a ball properly or swing a bat with both hands, writes MLB.com's Matthew Leach. Lopez would also provide insurance in case rookie third baseman David Freese struggles in his first full-time starting role.
The 29-year-old Lopez is coming off a season in which he hit .310/.383/.427 in 680 plate appearances for the Brewers and Diamondbacks. He also enjoyed one of the finest stints of his career in St. Louis in 2008, when he posted a .385/.426/.538 line in 169 plate appearances for the Cardinals. Since being released by the Nationals in early August of 2008, Lopez has been a .325/.392/.450 hitter in 849 plate appearances. UZR rates his defense as above average at second and third, but below average at short.
Joe Strauss of The St. Louis Post-Dispatch first reported that the two sides were close to an agreement, while ESPN's Buster Olney confirmed the deal. SI.com's Jon Heyman and Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com tweeted the contract details.
Mike Axisa contributed to this post.