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.