Are the Yankees looking to sign Pablo Lopez?

Yankees may be considering pitcher Pablo López

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After the 2022 season is over, the Yankees need to do everything they can to make their team better. This is especially true after their bullpen failed against the Astros and Houston’s pitchers effectively limited their big hitters to beat them in the ALCS. Since Jameson Taillon is a free agent, Luis Severino is likely to reach his innings limit in 2023, and Frankie Montas was not good and then got hurt after coming to the Bronx, it seems like a good idea to try to get a starting pitcher through a trade. Enter Pablo Lopez, a right-handed pitcher for the Miami Marlins.

There’s a good reason why Pablo Lopez’s name might sound familiar. Heyman wrote in August about a possible deal involving Lopez: “The Yankees looked into Marlins right-hander Pablo Lopez, but they asked for Anthony Volpe, Oswald Peraza, or Gleyber Torres instead.”

https://twitter.com/MichiganYankees/status/1555948374544752640

2022 Stats: 32 G, 180 IP, 3.75 ERA (108 ERA+), 3.71 FIP, 23.6 K%, 7.2 BB%, 2.8 fWAR

 

This wouldn’t be the first time that the Yankees and the Marlins have talked about the Yankees getting Pablo Lopez. Before the deadline for trades, the two teams talked about making a deal, but nothing came of it. Depending on who you read, the details are different, but GM Brian Cashman thought the Marlins’ price was too high.

It’s not impossible that GM Brian Cashman talked trade with Kim Ng, who used to work for him in the front office and now runs the Marlins.

Joel Sherman of the New York Post wrote earlier: “The Marlins were asking for Gleyber Torres plus more for Lopez. It was too rich.”

https://twitter.com/MichiganYankees/status/1555948444514226176

The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal said that Miami wanted both Gleyber Torres and Oswald Peraza in exchange for Pablo Lopez and shortstop Miguel Rojas. Jon Heyman at the New York Post said that the Marlins also asked about Anthony Volpe, which showed that they were interested in more than just one player. You can’t blame the Marlins for wanting a lot, but it’s not surprising that the Yankees didn’t want to trade one of their best prospects for Torres, who had just come back to form.

There are several reasons why Pablo Lopez won’t be cheap. First, let’s talk about his contract. If the Yankees buy him before Opening Day, they’ll have him for two full seasons, and his annual salary isn’t likely to be too high for them to afford. MLB Trade Rumors thinks that he will make $5.6 million this season, which is his second season where he can go to arbitration. In 2024, he would be in his last year of arbitration, and his price is not likely to go up.

He’s also coming off a season in which he proved he can handle a full season of taking the mound every fifth day and devouring innings. Pablo Lopez started 32 games and threw 180 innings for Miami. The former number tied for third place on the senior circuit, while the latter ended just outside the top ten.

In terms of his pitching arsenal, Pablo Lopez mostly used a fastball and a changeup in 2022. The heater was thrown 39% of the time, and the change was thrown 35% of the time. His fastball doesn’t stand out after the average speed and spin nose-dived in 2022.

In 2022, his changeup was by far his best pitch. He was comfortable throwing the pitch to both left-handed and right-handed batters. In the end, he threw it more than a thousand times, giving the other team a batting average of .220 and a slugging percentage of .374.

Even though Pablo Lopez’s fastball has average speed and spin rate, he has a good track record of getting average to below-average contact. He has finished in the 90th percentile or higher at least twice in his career for the average exit speed of balls he has let go. However, it revolved around 88 mph in the past five seasons.

The result is a pitcher who puts the ball in play 8.63 times out of every 9 innings over his career. Also, players often hit balls in play on the ground. In 2022, he was the 12th best National League starter with at least 150 innings and a GB% of 46.1%. His changeup caused his opponents’ bats to launch at an average angle of four degrees, which contributed to Pablo Lopez’s high rate of ground balls. That wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world for a Yankees infield defense that was a lot better in 2022 than it was before.

And it’s not because he can’t get batters to miss. In July 2021, he started a game by striking out nine straight batters.

Even if Pablo Lopez never changes from the way he is now, he is still a good pitcher. He is still only 26 years old, has been under club control for several seasons, and has shown he can get the ball in play on the ground while avoiding most hard hits. Also, his season in 2022 showed that he can take the ball every fifth day and still throw good innings.

We know what Miami might want in exchange for Pablo Lopez, which is not the case for all trade targets. But his club now has half a year less control over him if he is traded, so maybe the asking price goes down a bit. In any case, it seems like the right thing to do to call Miami and find out how much it might cost to bring the young right-handed pitcher to the Bronx to join the rest of the Yankees’ rotation.

What do you think? Should the Yankees sign Pablo Lopez for 2023? Leave your comment below.

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