Giants In Mid-Off-Season Form, Overpay for Two LHRPs

Yesterday, the Giants moved to keep both of their lefty relievers, Javier Lopez and Jeremy Affeldt. Lopez was signed to a two-year deal for a total of $8.5 million. Affeldt saw his option for 2012 picked up for $5 million.

Yup. $9.25 million for 2012 for two left-handed relievers.

Affeldt made $4.5 million in 2011, so he sees a good bump. Lopez sees a great bump from the $2.375 million he was paid in 2011.

Maybe I could justify signing one of them for $3 to $4 million. But both? For $4.5 to $5 million? Each? Affeldt had a WAR of 0.2 in 2011. Lopez’ WAR was better in 2011, standing at 0.7. But still – is a total WAR of 0.9 in 2011 worth $9.25 million in 2012? Not likely.

More importantly, will Bruce Bochy manage to use Lopez properly in 2012? This past season, Bochy had Lopez face 118 right-handed batters, who had a .761 OPS and .273 BA against him. Yet he faced just 104 left-handed batters, who had an OPS of just .430 and BA of .163 when facing him. His K/9 ratio drops from 8.04 when facing lefties to 5.40 for righties; his BB/9 ration jumps from 2.89 to 6.12. Obviously he’s better facing lefties, but somehow still faced more righties during 2011. Lopez has much greater value when used the right way, pitching to LHBs. Maybe not $8.5 million total value, but maybe close.

Perhaps watching the bullpens implode in the World Series this year convinced Brian Sabean that he needed to lock up his left-handed relievers, before they hit the open market. It’s a calculated risk for the team to tie up so much money in relief pitching. If it pays off, it just might be almost worth it.

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