In their search for left-handed relief pitching, the Nationals have reached to out San Francisco Giants free agent Javier Lopez, Lopez’s agent Barry Meister said.
General Manager Mike Rizzo sent Meister a text message a week ago, and the sides have a “mutual level of interest,” Meister said. The sides have not been in touch since the initial communication, but they plan to reconvene.
The Nationals are looking to beef up the left side of their bullpen, which was lacking last season, especially early in the year. A key cog in the Giants’ 2012 World Series run and an 11-year veteran, Lopez has been one of the game’s most reliable lefty specialists. Lopez made $4.25 million in 2013, the final season of a two-year, $8.5 million deal.
Lopez, 36, has appeared in 72 games per season over the past four years, striking out 6.9 batters per nine innings with a 2.37 ERA. Last year, left-handed batters hit .156/.208/.222 against his deceptive, sidewinding delivery. Over the last three years, remarkably, Lopez has allowed one home run to a left-handed hitter in 299 plate appearances.
Meister said playing for a team that has a chance to win the World Series would be the “overriding factor” in Lopez’s decision on his 2014 destination. Location may be in the Nationals’ favor, too. Lopez was born in Puerto Rico, but he grew up in Fairfax, attended Robinson High and played college ball at Virginia. His sister and other family members still live in the area.
The Nationals have also expressed interest in Boone Logan, and Rizzo has raised the idea of breaking in left-handed pitching prospects, namely Sammy Solis, as another option to beef up the left side of the bullpen. Manny Parra and J.P. Howell, free agents the Nationals had interest in last season, could also be targets.