Sunday, July 14, 2013

Trade Targets: Javier Lopez, Joe Thatcher, Francisco Rodriguez

Time to keep looking at the bullpen and the possibilities there.  The other day, I talked about the prospect of trading for Oliver Perez and today, let's continue with a three pack of pitchers that the Braves could be looking at.  Though, considering the way the series with the Reds has gone thus far, maybe the Braves focus should be in the outfield.

Javier Lopez, San Francisco Giants

No, not that Javy Lopez.  Sorry ladies.  Lopez makes up part of an expensive bullpen.  Lopez, along with four other members of the Giants' pen, will earn nearly $20M this season, an obscene average of $4M a reliever.  Lopez isn't the cheapest member of the lot as he will make $4.25M in the final year of a two-year contract.  Something to keep in mind, though, is for the Braves, that total is closer to the prorated amount of, in a deadline deal, would be around 60 games, or roughly $1.5M.

Lopez is a one-trick pony, but it's a good trick and has kept him in the majors since 2003.  He gets lefties out.  This season, lefties are hitting .161 against him and are striking out a third of the time with an abysmal OBP of .241.  That is in line with his 2012 numbers.

It does seem incredible to think that a player can earn over $4M and pitch a completely healthy season while throwing just 36 innings, but that's what Lopez did last season and it's what he is doing a rather good job of this season.  You have to shield him, but if you want someone in your pen to get out Joey Votto, Bryce Harper, or Pedro Alvarez, you will have trouble finding someone better than Lopez.

Joe Thatcher, San Diego Padres

In four of the last five seasons, Thatcher has quietly done a tremendous job at getting lefties out.  Like Lopez, his one trick provides value for the team that employs him.  Unlike Lopez, Thatcher is not a free agent after the World Series and can be kept by offering arbitration for 2014.  Thatcher reupped with the Padres last season for $1.35M and might make over $2M if he continues his solid 2013.  One might think that a package for Thatcher and another year of team control might cost more than one for Lopez, a rental.  I would argue that Lopez's perception as one of the premier LOOGY's in the game would make him more expensive in a package.  Plus, the Padres seem more likely to deal over the Giants, who might not want to consider selling.

Thatcher seems to be a better option if left in to face a righty here-and-there that might be sandwiched between two left-hand hitters or to make a switch-hitter hit from his weaker side.  He has that over Lopez.

Francisco Rodriguez, Milwaukee Brewers

K-Rod recently saved his 300th, but saves would be almost impossible for him to get in Atlanta.  And for Rodriguez, at this point in his career, that's for the best.  Sure, you can make him a prime high-leverage reliever, but you would be better off avoiding that.

Coming into Saturday's games, Rodriguez had a 10.4 K/9, a 3.07 FIP, and a 3.42 xFIP.  Pretty respectable numbers.  However, much like last year, Rodriguez has seemed to struggle with keeping the ball in the yard and that could keep him out of the late innings mix for the Braves in any possible trade.  Owed the prorated amount of a bit over $2M, Rodriguez's value for the Braves would come at replacing a lesser name in the pen, possibly Luis Ayala.

For a C-grade prospect, Rodriguez could be valuable.  Maybe not enough to trade for, though.

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