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Yankees Free Agent Target: Javier Lopez

The Yankees have their eyes on the veteran lefty. What could he bring to the table in 2014?

Ouch, that arm slot!
Ouch, that arm slot!
Doug Pensinger

With Boone Logan entering free agency and Cesar Cabral having all of 3.2 innings of work in the majors under his belt, the Yankees are in the market for a lefty specialist out of the pen. If early reports are to be believed, they have set their sights on 36 year-old veteran Javier Lopez, formerly of the San Francisco Giants. And the interest is said to be mutual, with Lopez's agent saying that his client is looking to pitch for a contender. Of course that could include any number of teams besides the Yankees, so don't put him on the roster just yet.

Lopez is the very definition of a LOOGY. In his 11 year career he has never started a game and right-handed batters have a .813 OPS against the lefty. He does one thing and does it well, as he held left-handed batters to a paltry .156/.208/.222 slash line while pitching to a 1.83 ERA in 39 1/3 innings this last season. For comparison's sake, Logan had a .215/.275/.377 slash line against lefties in 2013 . Add in Logan's proclivity for allowing home runs last year (1.62 HR/9) and Lopez would be a clear upgrade.

Lopez made $4.25 million in 2013, and would likely be looking for a raise due to his excellent campaign. So the Yankees have a lot to consider when thinking about how many of their "limited" resources to devote to a position that is generally considered a luxury when they have so many other holes to fill. The Yankees have hinted that they will be addressing those other issues before turning to finding a lefty bullpen arm, and Lopez's agent has said they will grant the Yankees the time to do so before initiating any serious negotiations.

$5 million-plus is an awful lot to allocate to a pitcher that will only see about 40 innings of work for the Yankees in 2014. Those will tend to be high leverage situations to be sure, but with as many issues as the Yankees have setting "left-handed specialist" at the very bottom of the hypothetical to-do list would be prudent. Fortunately it seems that that is what the Yankees are doing at this juncture.

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