Making official what was reported last week, Jose Lopez has signed a one-year deal with the Yomiuri Giants in Japan.
According to the Associated Press he’ll get $911,000, which is less than most former major leaguers heading to Japan typically receive and suggests Lopez couldn’t find anything more than a minor-league deal in America.
And that makes sense, because despite some early hope that he’d develop into an impact player (and an odd All-Star appearance in 2006) Lopez has been pretty terrible for years now, hitting .236 with a .615 OPS during the past three seasons.
Jose Lopez is close to signing with the Yomiuri Giants in Japan, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.
Lopez was an All-Star at age 22 and is still just 29 years old, but he hasn’t been a productive regular since 2009 and hit just .236 with a .615 OPS in 313 games as a part-time player during the past three seasons.
For his nine-season career Lopez is a .262 hitter with a .292 on-base percentage and .395 slugging percentage, which has to be among the worst production ever for someone who made an All-Star team so young. Of course, his “All-Star” season wasn’t particularly impressive, as he hit .282 with 10 homers and a .723 OPS, so it’s not as if Lopez was ever anything special.
As noted by Nick Collias of MLB Trade Rumors, the Astros are close to an agreement with Jose Lopez.
“On December 26th I’m going to fly to Houston,” Lopez told reporters on Saturday in his native Venezuela. “Nothing is firm yet, but I might have to stop playing (in the Venezuelan winter leagues). Everything depends on the physical exams.”
Lopez batted just .246/.270/.356 with four homers and 28 RBI in 81 games this past season between the Indians and White Sox. The 29-year-old has not been a productive major leaguer since 2009, when he slugged 25 home runs in 153 games as the Mariners’ starting second baseman. His career on-base percentage is just .292.
Which is why this deal with the Astros will be probably be of the non-guaranteed minor league variety.
UPDATE: CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman says there’s “nothing going on” between the Astros and Lopez.
After an 11-game losing streak knocked his team out of contention for 2012, Indians manager Manny Acta is looking ahead towards next year.
“It’s no secret, we’re going to need to improve our offense,” Acta told Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “We’re going to have to find a solution in left field, we’re going to have to find a solution at first base and we’re going to have to find a solution at DH. That’s pretty obvious.
“And the third base situation is not determined either. Lonnie [Chisenhall] has a broken arm. The guys that are here right now are fine and doing what they can, but we expect more.”
They may expect it, but they weren’t willing to pay for it previously, which is how they wound up with bargain-basement players Casey Kotchman, Johnny Damon, Shelley Duncan and Jose Lopez getting a bunch of at-bats this year.
At least the Indians will finally be out from under Travis Hafner’s contract this winter. Hafner is still pretty productive when he plays, but since he can’t even stay healthy as a DH, the Indians might not want him back even at a huge paycut. The Indians will also likely move on from Grady Sizemore now that they have Michael Brantley established in center field.
It should give them a fair amount of money to play with as they address their lineup. Considering that they’re completely set up middle with Brantley, Asdrubal Cabrera, Jason Kipnis and Carlos Santana and they’ll still have Shin-Soo Choo in right for another year, they should have the ability to put together a much improved lineup without having to completely revamp the budget.