Houston GM Jeff Luhnow’s quest to get rid of every player from Ed Wade’s tenure doesn’t appear to be done quite yet. Jim Salisbury of CSNphilly.com is reporting that the Phillies are in serious negotiations with the Houston Astros to acquirer reliever Wilton Lopez. Lopez isn’t a name that has been thrown around the rumor mill, but he could be a valuable pickup if the Phillies are able to complete a deal.
Lopez had a strong season pitching for the lowly Astros. He’s pitched over 60 innings with a sub 3.00 ERA the past three seasons, and racked up 10 saves last year. His ERA+ of 185 was pretty stellar, showing just how dominant he was pitching in the 8th and 9th innings for Houston. The numbers look good on paper, but his most valuable attributes don’t show up in the box score.
Lopez is a sinker ball pitcher, which is invaluable for anyone who pitches at Citizens Bank Park. His ability to keep the ball on the ground will play out extremely well, especially for a team that surrendered a lot of home runs a year ago. Not only is his sinker his best pitch, but he has shown remarkable control with it as well, walking only 8 batters all of last season.
Lopez brings just as much value off the field, as he would be under team control until 2016. He’s arbitration eligible, but he only made 500K last year. Relief is hard to find these days, but cheap relief is even harder. It makes sense that Ruben and the brass would turn to the trade market with free agents getting gobbled up left and right. Former Phillie Ryan Madson signed a one year deal with the Angels, and Jonathan Broxton just re-upped with the Reds. It’s impossible to judge this potential deal fully without knowing what the Phillies are giving up in return, but acquiring a solid 8th inning option behind Papelbon is a good start for the Phillies off-season.