The Giants announced Tuesday that they’ve claimed right-hander Jose Lopez off waivers from the Reds. In order to clear a spot on the 40-man roster, San Francisco designated left-hander Josh Osich for assignment. Cincinnati had designated the 25-year-old Lopez for assignment Monday after signing Zach Duke.
A year ago, Lopez was considered to be one of the more promising pitching prospects in Cincinnati’s system. The righty was fresh off a 2.57 ERA with 8.8 K/9, 3.0 BB/9 and a 44 percent ground-ball rate in 147 innings between Class-A Advanced and Double-A and was added to the Reds’ 40-man roster in order to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft. In 2018, however, Lopez turned in a 4.47 ERA with 7.5 K/9, 2.6 BB/9, 1.21 HR/9 and a diminished 29.1 percent ground-ball rate in 141 innings at the Triple-A level. As noted at the time of his DFA yesterday, Lopez’s relative youth, success in the upper minors and remaining two minor league options made him unlikely to clear waivers.
Lopez will add a potentially useful arm to the upper levels of a San Francisco organization that has been thin on pitching depth in recent seasons. He’s not likely to crack the roster to open the season with Madison Bumgarner, Jeff Samardzija, Dereck Rodriguez, Derek Holland, Drew Pomeranz and Andrew Suarez all ahead of him on the depth chart. However, Bumgarner, Holland and Pomeranz could all become free agents next winter, which could present Lopez an opportunity to eventually emerge as an option (as could injuries elsewhere on the roster in 2019).
Osich, 30, has spent time with the Giants in each of the past four seasons, though he’s struggled increasingly at the MLB level dating back to 2016. In 120 1/3 innings, Osich has a 5.01 ERA with 7.9 K/9, 4.6 BB/9, 1.50 HR/9 and a 51.8 percent ground-ball rate. Osich has a minor league option remaining and averages about 95 mph on his heater, but his struggles in recent years make it plausible that he could clear waivers and remain in the Giants organization. Last year in Triple-A, Osich posted a 4.96 ERA with a 42-to-18 K/BB ratio in 45 1/3 innings.