M’s lock up Lopez
The M’s signed Jose Lopez to a four year deal through the 2011 season today, buying out all his arbitration years (but not his first year of free agency) and giving them some cost certainty with one of their better young talents.
If you’ve been to either of the USSM feeds where Bavasi talked, you know he’s a huge fan of locking up large groups of young players to long term deals. He did this same thing when he was with the Angels, and they estimated that they saved about $35 to $40 million. It’s a sound strategy, and one that I’m glad to see the Mariners continue.
It’s also a significant investment in Lopez, and a good sign that the organization was still willing to commit to him despite a lackluster second half and a poor start to 2007. Lopez still has the talent to be a well above average second baseman, and getting him signed now is a low risk, high upside move. If he breaks out and turns into an all-star, the club has saved a fortune, and the cost is low enough that even worst case scenarios aren’t financially debilitating. There is some downside, as Lopez has been dogged by a reputation of being a less than hard worker through the years and his conditioning has been up and down, and giving guaranteed money to a guy with work ethic issues can backfire in your face. But Lopez has matured quite a bit in the past couple of years, and it shouldn’t be that big of a concern.
The M’s have now signed Putz, Betancourt, and Lopez to multiyear deals. Felix has been making public noise about getting one since 2005, so you know he’s angling to be next in line. It will be interesting to see how the M’s handle Felix’s situation, but I would think its totally plausible that they get something done with him before the season ends.