Javier Lopez Rumors

Giants Notes: Lincecum, Evans, Lopez, Sandoval

The Giants officially announced their extension with Tim Lincecum today and it was the club's early willingness to get a deal done that helped convince the two-time Cy Young Award winner to stay.  “When they made the push it was hard for me not to respond,” Lincecum said during a conference call with reporters (including The San Francisco Chronicle's Henry Schulman). “The relationship kept pushing until it found us sitting here at two years, $35 million, and I’m really, really, really happy about that.”  The righty also noted that his struggles over the last two seasons served as some motivation to remain in San Francisco, as "that’s not the way you want to go out."

Here are some more items from AT&T Park…

  • Lincecum said that he would consider returning to play for his hometown Mariners near the end of his career but "wasn’t ready for that kind of jump" at this point.
  • Giants president Larry Baer denied that Lincecum was only re-signed for his marketability and popularity with San Francisco fans. "Everybody on the baseball side who was evaluating it said this was the right thing for the Giants to keep the rotation strong and keep the team’s chances of winning strong, with all he’s capable of doing and all he’s done over the years," Baer said.
  • Even after re-signing Lincecum and Hunter Pence, assistant GM Bobby Evans said the Giants still have enough "flexibility" to look at "outside options to solidify the rotation."  Evans did say it would be "problematic" for the club to pursue qualifying offer-rejecting free agents since the Giants have an unprotected first-round draft pick.
  • Evans wasn't sure if the team would also be able to re-sign southpaw Javier Lopez before he tests the free agent market (hat tip to CSNBayArea.com's Andrew Baggarly).  Lopez is coming off the best season of his 11-year career, having posted a 1.83 ERA, 8.5 K/9 and 3.08 K:BB rate in 39 1/3 IP in 2013.
  • "The industry is going nuts" over the Lincecum extension, ESPN's Buster Olney writes (Insider subscription required) but the deal is "such an outlier" that Olney doesn't think it will heavily impact the rest of the free agent pitching market.
  • It's no surprise that Pablo Sandoval's name that been floated in trade rumors, MLB.com's Chris Haft writes.  Sandoval will hit free agency after the 2014 season and the Giants have questions about the Panda's consistency at the plate and his physical conditioning.  Haft opines that Sandoval would draw a lot of attention on the trade market and he could be dealt for starting pitching or perhaps a second baseman (as Marco Scutaro would take over at third base).

Giants Notes: Miller, Pence, Lincecum, Lopez

Famed Giants broadcaster Jon Miller sat down with Howard Megdal of Sports On Earth to discuss the team's disappointing campaign. He says that the team faces a whole new ballgame now that the long-time rival Dodgers are running a massive budget. San Francisco is somewhat hampered by its $20MM+ annual stadium payments, says Miller, who notes that "the cost of a superstar bat, or a superstar pitcher, has to go to the mortgage every year."

  • Miller tells Megdal that he expects the Giants will try to bring back both of their top free agents, Hunter Pence and Tim Lincecum.
  • San Francisco has decided that it will extend qualifying offers to both Pence and Lincecum, reports CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman, with the expectation that neither will accept. Heyman reiterates that, as we learned a week back, San Francisco has decided to prioritize a long-term deal with Pence. That does not mean, he hastens to add, that the team is not interested in exploring a new contract with the popular Lincecum. 
  • Regarding Pence, Heyman says that the Giants "are believed to have signaled a willingness" to meet the four-year, $56MM that Nick Swisher recently received from the Indians. Heyman notes that Pence's representatives at BHSC could point to the Andre Ethier extension (five years, $85MM) or even the Jayson Werth deal (seven years, $126MM) to justify a higher asking price.
  • Left-handed reliever Javier Lopez says he believes he will return to San Francisco, but knows that the team has other more pressing priorities, reports Chris Haft of MLB.com. "The front office and coaching staff are on the same page as far as my wanting to stay here," said the 36-year-old southpaw. "San Francisco is a beautiful place to play, and I love playing there. … But there are a lot of spots that need to be filled before they get to me." Lopez earned $4.25MM this year, and threw 38 2/3 innings of 1.63 ERA baseball and registering a sturdy 8.1 K/9 against 2.8 BB/9. He has held lefties to a .154/.211/.225 line.

Lincecum, Pence, Lopez Claimed Off Waivers

Giants stars Tim Lincecum, Hunter Pence and Javier Lopez all went on waivers Saturday and were quickly claimed by teams, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.  However, someone familiar with the situation told Heyman that "none of them are going anywhere." 

While the Giants could still trade any of the players, it appears that either the claiming teams were doing so in order to block trades or the Giants weren't really interested in trading any of the three.  The Giants could save close to $8MM by dropping the pending free agents, but there's reason to believe that they were never eager to deal three players who have helped them win World Series titles.  With Lincecum and Pence, the Giants have extra incentive to keep them as they plan to extend qualifying offers and collect draft picks if they go elsewhere.    

Lincecum owns a 4.55 ERA with 9.4 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9 but he is seen as someone who can help teams as a reliever or starter and one rival exec is confident that he's "better than a 4.5 ERA pitcher."  The right-hander is owed $4.2MM for the remainder of the year.  Pence, who makes about $2.8MM and Lopez, who is owed just $859K until the end, were locks to be claimed.  At any rate, it appears that all three men will finish the season in San Francisco.

Placed On Waivers: Gallardo, Morse, Bell, Lopez

Here's Monday's list of players that have been placed on revocable trade waivers…

  • Yovani Gallardo — Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter) reports that Gallardo has been placed on waivers by the Brewers.  The starter drew interest this summer as a player who could help not just for 2013, but beyond, as he is under contract for $11.25MM next season with a $13MM club option for 2015.  Gallardo is having a down year, but he has had two strong starts against the Reds this month since coming off of the DL.  For his career, Gallardo owns a 3.76 ERA with 8.9 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9.
  • Mike Morse — Rosenthal also reports that Morse was placed on waivers by the Mariners.  Morse's teammate, Kendrys Morales, was claimed off of waivers earlier today, giving Seattle two bats to dangle to interested clubs.  Will either player be moved?  We can surmise that the M's held on to impending free agents like Morse, Morales, and Raul Ibanez with the idea of retaining them beyond this season.  On the year, Morse owns a .227/.282/.414 slash line with 13 homers in 301 plate appearances – down from his career line of .285/.338/.480.
  • Heath BellJon Heyman of CBS Sports tweets that Bell, 35, has been placed on waivers. He came to the Diamondbacks from the Marlins this offseason in a three-team trade that also included the A's. Bell has rebounded, to an extent, from a rough 2012 season that saw him post a 5.09 ERA in his only season with the Marlins. He's pitched to a 3.88 ERA with 10.0 K/9, 2.1 BB/9 and a 41.9 percent ground-ball rate. His HR/FB ratio is at a sky-high 17.2 percent, which has bloated his ERA. xFIP predicts that with a league-average HR/FB rate (roughly 11 percent), Bell would have an ERA of 3.05. His K/BB numbers and the fluky nature of high HR/FB rates suggest he's in for some improvement in the ERA department, but he's under contract for $9MM this season and again in 2014. The Marlins are picking up $8MM of that salary, but he'd be an expensive acquisition. I'd expect Bell to clear waivers.
  • Javier Lopez — Heyman also tweets that the 36-year-old Lopez has been placed on waivers by the Giants. Lopez has a masterful 1.99 ERA with 8.2 K/9, 3.1 BB/9 and a monstrous 64 percent ground-ball rate. He drew significant interest from multiple teams prior to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. San Francisco GM Brian Sabean reportedly had exorbitant asking price at the time, seeking top prospect Danny Salazar from the Indians in exchange for Lopez. A free agent at season's end, Lopez is owed roughly $813K over the remainder of the year and seems likely to be claimed.

For a reminder on how revocable trade waivers and August trades work, check out MLBTR's August trades primerYou can see who is available to be traded to any team by checking MLBTR's list of players who have cleared waivers.  Zach Links contributed to this post.

Giants, Javier Lopez Have Mutual Interest In Return

Javier Lopez is staying put and the left-hander says he and the Giants have already discussed his impending free agency and there is mutual interest in a return, tweets Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com.  The veteran said that he signed his two-year extension with every intention of playing it out and is glad that he'll get that chance, tweets Hank Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle.

The reliever's name popped up multiple times throughout the day in trade rumors but nothing came to fruition.  With minutes to go before the deadline and multiple teams still linked to Lopez, Giants skipper Bruce Bochy said he was confident Lopez would staying put, according to Alex Pavlovic of the Mercury News (via Twitter).

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported that the Giants kept a high asking price on Lopez and the Reds were among the teams vying for him, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post.  The Indians and Giants also had discussions regarding Lopez, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports.  Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported yesterday the Giants asked the Indians for young starter Danny Salazar, which was not going to happen. 

The Tigers were believed to be interested in Lopez, but Jim Bowden of ESPN.com (Twitter links) reported that Detroit never tried to land the lefty.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

Relief Rumors: Lopez, Gregerson, Thatcher, Red Sox

Less than one day remains until the trade deadline, and relievers have been the most moved commodity in recent days, with Scott Downs, Jose Veras, Jesse Crain and Marc Rzepczynski all changing teams. Here's more on the relief market…

  • The Tigers remain open to adding relief help and have expressed interest in Javier Lopez, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (on Twitter). It seems that Detroit isn't necessarily set in the bullpen department after adding Veras yesterday.
  • Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer tweets that the Indians called the Giants about Lopez but the talks ended quickly when San Francisco asked for top prospect Danny Salazar in return.
  • The Padres are listening on both Luke Gregerson and Joe Thatcher, but they'd need to be "inspired" to move either pitcher, according to ESPN's Buster Olney (Twitter link).
  • Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reported earlier today the Red Sox still consider bullpen help as a high priority (Twitter link). However, the team acquired Jake Peavy and Brayan Villarreal earlier tonight, so that may no longer be a need. Villarreal could slot into Boston's bullpen, and the Sox could also push Brandon Workman to the bullpen, as Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe noted (on Twitter).

Giants Rumors: Javier Lopez, Pence, Lincecum

The Giants will definitely move lefty reliever Javier Lopez, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post.  As for fellow impending free agents Hunter Pence and Tim Lincecum, as reported yesterday, the Giants intend to make a qualifying offer to both after the season, but are willing to listen to trade offers now.  The latest:

Earlier Updates

  • The Giants' interest in retaining Pence and Lincecum will clearly affect whether they're traded this summer.  Assistant GM Bobby Evans noted to Sherman, "You have to be realistic that if you trade a guy, you are not going to be able to re-sign him. That is what history shows."  In a general sense, Evans also said, "We will listen.  And things change as the deadline gets closer. But I don’t see anyone overwhelming us to make deals happen."

Giants To Entertain Offers For Veterans

10:33pm: The Tigers are among the many teams that have spoken to the Giants about Lopez, according to Danny Knobler of CBS Sports (on Twitter). Earlier tonight, Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports reported that the two sides have had trade discussions even after Detroit's acquisition of Jose Veras earlier today.

In a separate tweet, Knobler reports that Pence is available, though the price is very high. The Giants aren't likely to trade Lincecum, according to Knobler.

2:32pm: The Giants plan to make qualifying offers to Pence and Lincecum after the season, writes Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, leading one source to suggest their asking price is "very strong" on the pair.

1:22pm: The Giants have told other teams they'd rather re-sign Pence than trade him, according to ESPN's Jayson Stark.

10:53am: The Giants will entertain trade offers for veterans, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.  He says that while the club would ideally like to keep potential free agents Tim Lincecum, Hunter Pence, and Javier Lopez, they feel they must listen to any reasonable proposal.

Lincecum, 29, has a 4.95 ERA in 313 regular season innings since dominating from 2008-11.  This year, strikeouts are up and walks down, suggesting he could be a 3.50 ERA pitcher moving forward.  With over $7MM remaining, his salary could be prohibitive for some clubs, and his ERA has bounced around in the mid to high-4.00s since May.  A qualifying offer, which could cost $14MM, is a question mark at this point for the Giants if he stays, in my opinion.

Pence, 30, is hitting .277/.320/.457 in 440 plate appearances this year.  He's hitting .259/.300/.401 since June 1st, and probably doesn't qualify as an impact bat even in a weak market.  Rosenthal suggests he would receive a qualifying offer from the Giants after the season, so they'd be looking to top the value of a supplemental draft pick.  Of course, the Giants have typically placed a lower value on such picks than most clubs.  Pence has around $4.6MM remaining on his contract.

Lopez, 36, would be the easiest of the three to move.  About 64% of the batters he's faced have been left-handed hitters, and he's dominated against them.  The Braves and Indians seek left-handed relief.  The Diamondbacks are in the market as well, though the division rivals haven't matched up on a trade since '05.  The Giants would consider re-signing Lopez in the offseason, according to Jack Magruder of FOX Sports Arizona, but "indications are that Lopez would like to play closer to his Virginia home."

Steve Adams contributed to this post.

Giants To Re-Sign Javier Lopez

The Giants and Javier Lopez have agreed to a two-year, $8.5MM contract, a person with knowledge of the negotiations told The Associated Press.  The money will be divided evenly in each year as the left-handed reliever will earn $4.25MM in 2012 and '13.

Lopez had a base salary of $2.375MM in 2011 and was two innings short of earning a $25K bonus for reaching 55 innings.  In 53 innings of work this year, Lopez registered a 2.72 ERA with 6.8 K/9 and 4.4 BB/9.  The 34-year-old was expected to receive plenty of interest on the open market from teams in search of a quality matchup lefty.

The Giants now have to decide on the $5MM option for fellow lefty reliever Jeremy Affeldt.  Sabean expects to retain Affeldt even if the club declines his option and renegotiates a new contract.  The Giants have until the end of the day Monday to either exercise the option or pay a $500K buyout.

West Notes: Kuroda, Lopez, Sanchez, Harden, Angels

Here are some notes from both divisions out west…

  • Dodgers pitcher Hiroki Kuroda shrugged off speculation from the Japanese media that he'll return to Japan to pitch a farewell season with Hiroshima in 2012, writes Ken Gurnick of MLB.com.  Kuroda put the odds of him pitching in MLB or going home next season at 50-50.
  • Expect lots of teams to talk with the agent of Giants reliever Javier Lopez, writes ESPN.com's Buster Olney.  The 34-year-old has postseason experience and teams such as the Yankees, Red Sox, Rangers, Brewers, and Cardinals have been after a good matchup lefty this year.
  • Giants second baseman Freddy Sanchez expect to be ready for opening day but manager Bruce Bochy and GM Brian Sabean already have discussed the importance of covering themselves with other options at the position, writes Andrew Baggarly of the Mercury News
  • Rich Harden would like to return to the Athletics and Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle says that’s something that could happen.  The injury-prone veteran would likely sign for an inexpensive one-year deal.
  • With his strong work down the stretch, Jerome Williams has become the leading in-house candidate to assume one of the spots behind Jered Weaver, Dan Haren, and Ervin Santana in the Angels' 2012 rotation, writes Lyle Spencer of MLB.com.