Giants Re-Sign Javier Lopez, Exercise Jeremy Affeldt’s Option

The Giants wasted no time making their first set of offseason moves, as they re-signed Javier Lopez and exercised Jeremy Affeldt‘s option for the 2012 season. Lopez’s contract is worth $8.5MM over the next two years, while Affeldt’s option is worth $5MM.

The Lopez deal buys out what would have been his first two free agent years; he’s essentially a LOOGY (something useful, obviously, but not of great value), so it’s a bit peculiar that the Giants handed him such a deal. Since coming over to the Giants in the John Bowker/Joe Martinez trade in 2010, he’s tossed 72 innings over 97 appearances, posting a 157 ERA+. His peripherals aren’t particularly good, as his highest single-season K/9 is 6.79 (this year), and he’s averaged a little more than four walks per nine innings pitched over his career. The one thing that does separate him from the pack is his elite home run prevention skills — he has yet to allow a home run in a San Francisco uniform, and his career HR/9 is 0.46. In any event, the contract seems a bit excessive, but that’s the nature of the market at this point. Relievers have been consistently overpaid, despite the fact that they’re not actually worth that much.

The Affeldt move is even more questionable, as his option is quite expensive, and — of course — it was announced after the Lopez deal. Affeldt’s a bit younger than Lopez, and has more versatility/durability, but he’s basically been a replacement level pitcher over the past two seasons, and retaining Affeldt shouldn’t have been much of a priority. I’m not even sure if he’d command $5MM on the open market.

As a whole, these two moves are a bit excessive and unnecessary — at least at this point. The Giants just spent more than $9MM on a couple of lefty relievers, even though they’ve made it clear that they’re limiting payroll this year. The Giants are in dire need of bolstering their offense, and this deal conceivably means less money will be invested in free agent hitters. These aren’t terrible moves, per se, but they’re clearly not good ones either — there’s not really any potential for surplus value. If the Giants are intent on keeping payroll at a minimum despite the fact that they have resources to boost it, these deals are even worse. The Giants solidified their ‘pen, but they spent a good chunk of money to do so — money that would have been better invested on a quality free agent position player.

Of course, if the Giants do happen to raise payroll significantly (which I don’t anticipate), these deals are much more palatable.

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3 thoughts on “Giants Re-Sign Javier Lopez, Exercise Jeremy Affeldt’s Option

  1. Really? Sabean doesn’t know how much he will be able to improve the Giants offense, which depends on other teams and players’ agents. Without a vastly improved offense, his rotation is pitching under stress; and that means that he needs to let his starters turn the game over to a strong, trustworthy bullpen who can keep the opposition from scoring in (inevitably) close games. Whatever relief pitchers may be worth generally, they are worth a good deal more to the Giants, where their role becomes crucial. It makes excellent sense to stick with Lopez and Affeldt rather than trust to the FA market to produce someone equally good at lower cost, which you yourself imply is doubtful, or to scrimp by handing matters over to their dubious replacements, such as Edlefsen, Runzler, and Otero (say). The alleged overpayments are for relatively few bucks in the context of making handsome, competitive offers to excellent run producers.

    • The Giants paid them more than they’re worth. It’s not a ton of money, but it is nearly $10MM, and the Giants are on a very tight budget. This leaves them, conceivably, with little money to spend on hitters (SS, CF) — which should be their priority.

  2. Pingback: Danny Knobler: Carlos Beltran could be a “stretch” to fit in Giants’ budget » Giants Nirvana | SF Giants Blog

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