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Rodrigo Lopez Rumors
The Cubs have acquired right-hander Rodrigo Lopez from the Braves for left-hander Ryan Buchter, according to Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune (via Twitter). Cubs GM Jim Hendry told Sullivan (via Twitter) that he sees the veteran as a swingman who can start or relieve.
Lopez has spent this season at Triple-A Gwinnett, posting a 2.59 ERA with 6.7 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9 in nine starts. The 35-year-old pitched 200 innings as a starter for Arizona last season and finished with a 5.00 ERA with 5.2 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9.
Buchter, 24, will be assigned to Class A-Advanced Lynchburg. The reliever has made 57 appearances at the Double-A level and owns a 4.94 ERA with 10.6 K/9 and 7.4 BB/9.
MLB.com's Mark Bowman (via Twitter) first reported that the Braves would receive Buchter in the deal.
- Speaking to Jack Curry of the YES Network, Yankees ace C.C. Sabathia stuck to his vow to avoid commenting on his opt-out clause until after the season. However, he added "I'm a Yankee" and said he can't see himself "playing anywhere else" (Twitter link).
- Rodrigo Lopez says he has no regrets about signing with the Braves, despite not earning a spot in the rotation, according to MLB.com's Mark Bowman and Alden Gonzalez.
- We heard earlier in the week that the Braves were looking to deal Lopez, with MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith running through some potential suitors. Although Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports says the Braves are more likely to trade Lopez than Kenshin Kawakami before Opening Day, he cautions that there's no rush for Atlanta – Lopez has an out in his contract, but not until June.
- Within Rosenthal's piece, a scout expresses doubt about Luis Castillo's chances of making the Phillies. MLB.com's Todd Zolecki says time is running out on Castillo's spring audition.
- Endy Chavez and Esteban German are among the players the Rangers sent to the minors today, tweets Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Meanwhile, with Tommy Hunter likely sidelined until May, Alexi Ogando could re-enter the Rangers' rotation mix, according to T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com.
The Braves are looking to trade two veteran starters: Rodrigo Lopez and Kenshin Kawakami. Lopez logged 200 innings in the majors last year and teams will find his minor league contract considerably more appealing than Kawakami's $6.67MM salary.
Lopez led the National League in losses, earned runs and homers allowed last year and FIP and xFIP suggest his 2010 ERA of 5.00 was appropriate. But he logged 200 innings and struck out twice as many hitters as he walked.
The available alternatives are not inspiring, so teams looking for rotation depth could check in on the 35-year-old right-hander this month. Here are some of the clubs that could be calling the Braves:
- Brewers – GM Doug Melvin says he's making calls to determine who's available. Wily Peralta, Marco Estrada, Eulogio de la Cruz and Tim Dillard are internal candidates to start for Milwaukee.
- Rockies – The Rockies inquired on Lopez late this offseason and Troy Renck of the Denver Post wouldn't be surprised to see them check in on him again (Twitter links). Lopez appeared in 14 games for the Rockies in 2007. Esmil Rogers and John Maine are among the candidates for the Rockies' final rotation spot, which opened up when Aaron Cook broke a finger.
- Orioles – Another one of Lopez's former teams, the Orioles, could monitor Lopez's availability, though they have reason to like their own rotation candidates.
- White Sox - Phil Humber, who has started two MLB games in his career, appears to be the leading candidate to start until Jake Peavy is healthy. Lopez wouldn't be a sexy choice, but he's far more experienced than Humber.
- Indians – The Indians expressed interest in some experienced starters this winter, possibly because Fausto Carmona is the only pitcher in the Indians' projected rotation who has a 200-inning season to his name. Lopez could have appeal to the Tribe.
- Athletics – Though the A's appear set for now, they could inquire in case the combination of Brandon McCarthy, Tyson Ross and Bobby Cramer falters.
The Braves are "looking to make a deal involving Rodrigo Lopez," tweets ESPN's Buster Olney. The news comes as no surprise; MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith highlighted Atlanta's rotation surplus yesterday.
Lopez, 35, posted a 5.00 ERA, 5.2 K/9, 2.5 BB/9, 1.7 HR/9, and 37.6% groundball rate in 200 innings for the Diamondbacks last year before signing a minor league deal with the Braves. He's been pretty good in 13 2/3 spring innings this year. The Braves would likely seek a modest return.
The Braves' rotation is already deep; Tim Hudson, Derek Lowe, Tommy Hanson and Jair Jurrjens provide manager Fredi Gonzalez with four solid starters. Lopez will presumably battle with Mike Minor for a rotation spot and Kenshin Kawakami and Brandon Beachy provide Atlanta with even more options.
Lopez logged 200 innings for the Diamondbacks last year, posting a 5.00 ERA with 5.2 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9. The 35-year-old induced more fly balls than ground balls last year, posting a 37.6% ground ball rate. Lopez underwent Tommy John surgery in 2007 and missed time with shoulder inflammation in 2009 before recovering to start 33 games last year, the second-highest total of his career.
Rodrigo Lopez "expects to decide to sign" with either the Braves, Mets or Rockies by the end of the weekend, reports ESPN.com's Jayson Stark (ESPN Insider subscription required). All three contracts are non-roster invitations to Spring Training, with various performances bonuses attached.
Lopez, 35, allowed a league-high 37 homers and 111 earned runs last season, posting a 5.00 ERA and a 2.07 K/BB ratio in 33 starts with Arizona. Lopez has already played for the Rockies (in 2007) and has also pitched for the Padres, Orioles and Phillies in his nine-year Major League career, missing the 2008 season due to Tommy John surgery.
The Rockies are considering available free agents as they look to add rotation depth, left-handed relief and infield help, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. The Rockies would like to add a veteran starter and David Bush and Rodrigo Lopez are among the team’s targets.
The team would also like to sign a left-handed reliever to a minor league deal. Matt Reynolds (21 career appearances) and Franklin Morales (88 career appearances) are the team's current options, so they’re eyeing veteran help. Former Rockie Joe Beimel does not appear to be an option, according to the Denver Post.
Alfredo Amezaga, Cristian Guzman and Aaron Miles are among the backup infielders the club is considering. The Rockies appear to prefer Amezaga to Miles, according to Troy Renck of the Denver Post. The Rockies still have interest in a higher profile infielder: Michael Young. Young will earn $16MM in each of the next three seasons and the Rangers say they expect him to stay in Texas.
Rangers assistant GM Thad Levine told Mike Ferrin and Morgan Ensberg on MLB Network Radio that “we’re looking at [Young] as our primary DH but also a guy who’s going to play all over the infield.” The team expects Young to get plenty of playing time, even though they just acquired former division rival Mike Napoli.
Pitchers and catchers are due to report in about three weeks, and by now all of the high-end free agents have come off the board. Heck, even second tier options have signed by now. That leaves just reclamation-type projects and players with considerable flaws, especially when it comes to pitching.
As MLBTR's Free Agent Tracker shows, starters like Kevin Millwood, Jeremy Bonderman, Freddy Garcia, Doug Davis, Rodrigo Lopez, Todd Wellemeyer and Brian Moehler remain unsigned. Andy Pettitte is clearly the best of the unsigned bunch, but it's the Yankees or retirement for him, and right now it looks like the latter is winning out. Neither Pedro Martinez, Braden Looper, or Jarrod Washburn have appeared in a big league game in over a year. John Maine, Justin Duchscherer and Jamie Moyer are coming off injuries, Tommy John surgery in Moyer's case.
There are still a number of teams looking for rotation help, including the Yankees, Orioles, Nationals, Pirates and Indians. Which of those unsigned starters represents the best option?
Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports (via Twitter) that the Diamondbacks have signed right-hander Rodrigo Lopez to a minor-league deal that includes an invitation to spring training. Lopez pitched in seven games (five of them starts) for Philadelphia last season, posting a 5.70 ERA. He underwent Tommy John surgery in 2007 that caused him to miss nearly all of 2008, save for three late-season minor league starts.
3:41pm: The A's have some interest in Lopez for the season's final few weeks, according to ESPN's Buster Olney.
9:57am: The Phillies released pitcher Rodrigo Lopez, according to MLB.com's Todd Zolecki (via Twitter). The 34 year-old righty tallied 30 innings, posting a 5.70 ERA and 19 strikeouts against 11 walks. He was solid in his five starts, with a 3.62 ERA. Lopez was bumped from the rotation when the Phillies acquired Cliff Lee.
Prior to his stint in the bigs, Lopez showed sparkling control en route to a 4.31 ERA in 18 Triple A starts. The Scott Boras client had Tommy John surgery in late '07 and had a minor league stint with the Braves in '08 before signing with the Phillies in March of this year.