Giants lefty Javier Lopez is interested in pitching again in 2017, as Alex Pavlovic of CSNBayArea.com reports. The 39-year-old had seemed to be a candidate to retire after the year, when his three-year, $13MM contract expires.
“I don’t know what’s next for me,” Lopez said after the Giants were bumped from the postseaon. “I’m a free agent and we’ll see what happens. If I have the opportunity to come back, I’ll welcome that.”
There are several ways to interpret those comments, including that he may only be interested in pitching if he can do so in San Francisco, where he has played since 2010. But it seems fair to expect that Lopez will be open to opportunities with other organizations this winter.
The level of open-market interest in the fourteen-year veteran remains to be seen. He threw only 26 2/3 innings this year despite making 68 appearances, with Giants skipper Bruce Bochy deploying him as perhaps the truest LOOGY in baseball.
Lopez ended the year with a 4.05 ERA, which is his worst mark in San Francisco but really isn’t all that relevant given the unique nature of his usage. More notably, he exhibited some erosion in the strikeout-to-walk department, managing only 15 strikeouts against 15 walks on the year. Though Lopez has succeeded for most of his career with an uninspiring K/BB ratio, he also ended 2016 with a 6.3% swinging strike rate that represented a clear personal low.
Lopez did manage to limit the ninety opposing lefties that he faced to a .208/.315/.312 batting line, and the ability to dominate in that area is the key skill for which he’d be pursued. The 28 righties who stepped into the box against him posted a .348/.464/.522 slash, but Lopez has long carried extreme platoon splits.