UPDATE: Cards sign Felipe Lopez

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Felipe Lopez headshot.jpgUpdate: OK, Johnny Mo is just showing off at this point. According to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com, Lopez will earn a $1 million base salary with $1.2 million in “easily attainable” incentives. Lopez made $3.5 million last season.

Saturday, 11:00 AM: The Cardinals have officially announced the signing. In fact, Lopez is already at Roger Dean Stadium (hat-tip to John Marecek of KTRS in St. Louis).

Friday, 8:55 PM: Heyman writes that he’ll make a $1.75 million base salary. Even better for the Redbirds.

Friday, 8:38 PM: Buster Olney of ESPN confirms the signing. One-year, $2 million, pending a physical.

Friday, 8:00 PM: According to Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Cardinals are close to signing free agent infielder Felipe Lopez to a one-year contract. He could take a physical as soon as this weekend, according to the report. If the contract is finalized, he’ll earn a $2 million base salary with a chance for some additional incentives.

Lopez, who earned $3.5 million last season, amazingly has to settle for less money after what was arguably his best season. He batted .310/.383/.427 with nine home runs and 57 RBI for the Diamondbacks and Brewers in ’09 and as I compiled in November, Lopez ranked fourth among impending free agents in WAR (Wins Above Replacement). Lopez became so frustrated this offseason that he recently fired Scott Boras and signed on with Beverly Hills Sports Council.

Lopez, who played 43 games with the Cardinals in 2008, is a pretty nice contingency plan while Brendan Ryan rehabs from wrist surgery. Because of his versatility around the diamond, he could even play some third base on occasion if rookie David Freese struggles or needs a breather. It’s a no-brainer, really.

And for my fellow Mets fans, just a reminder that Alex Cora will make $2 million this season and Luis Castillo is still the starting second baseman.
 

Padres trade Brad Hand, Adam Cimber to the Indians for Francisco Mejia

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Ken Rosenthal reports that the San Diego Padres have traded closer Brad Hand and reliever Adam Cimber to the Cleveland Indians. In return the Padres are getting top catching prospect Francisco Mejia.

Hand, the Padres’ All-Star closer, has a 3.05 ERA and 65/15 K/BB ratio and 24 saves over over 44.1 innings of work this season. In addition to helping an Indians bullpen which has struggled mightily this season, Hand will provide an insurance policy for the next two seasons given that both Andrew Miller and Cody Allen are due to hit free agency this winter. Hand, meanwhile, is under contract for this year and next for a total of $13.5 million, with a $10 million club option for 2021.

Cimber is another fine reliever who, along with Hand, suddenly transforms the Indians’ bullpen. He’s a 27-year-old rookie, but he’s been a very useful one this year, posting a 3.17 ERA in 42 games, with a K/BB ratio of 51/10 in 48.1 innings. He’s pitched even better than that of late and has been particularly hard on righties. He’s under team control through 2023.

In Mejia, the Padres are getting the Indians’ top hitting prospect. A catcher — though not necessarily a great defensive one — Mejia has struggled in brief stints in the big leagues thus far but is a .291/.344/.438 hitter in six minor league seasons and, at times, has shown star potential. He turns 23 in October.

A nice piece for the Padres in the long term and an immediate upgrade to the Indians’ bullpen in the short term. In short: a baseball trade.