2011 might have been a year of goodbyes.
We may have seen the last of Cody Ross in a Giants uniform. We probably witnessed Pat Burrell’s final game in the major leagues. We definitely saw Eric Surkamp’s last start in San Francisco, at least for another year or so.
Of the 21 players who are either arbitration-eligible or free agents heading into 2012, ten make up the pitching staff so vital to the Giants’ success. Two free agents hitting the market are lefty specialist Javier Lopez and right-handed reliever Guillermo Mota. According to Baseball Player Salaries, Lopez is “very valuable,” earning 1.93% of the team’s payroll while contributing 3.71% to their on-field performance. By comparison, Mota is “worth it,” making just 0.75% of the payroll and 0.86% of a contribution.
Looking at their performances in 2011, Lopez holds the sixth lowest team ERA at 2.70 over 70 games and 53.0 IP. He also placed 12th in the NL with 20 holds—9 more than his total in 2010. Mota falls slightly lower on the list, landing 11th in team ERA at 3.81 over 52 games and 80.1 IP. These may be respectable numbers for relief pitching, but do they make Lopez and Mota more valuable than other options?
It has been speculated in the blogosphere that the Giants can’t afford to bring back both Affeldt and Lopez next year. In 2011, Affeldt finished with the fourth lowest team ERA and WHIP, 2.63 and 1.15, respectively. Although he suffered a season-ending hand injury in September, his numbers are comparable to Lopez, with 67 games and 61.2 IP. More importantly, Sabean and Bochy have all but promised to sign the lefty in 2012, while Lopez has gone unmentioned.
Mota, on the other hand, is competing with three other arbitration-eligible righties—Sergio Romo, Santiago Casilla, and Ramon Ramirez—all of whom outperformed him in ERA and WHIP this season. Whether or not this will make a difference in upcoming salary arbitration talks is yet to be determined. Of course, Sabean and Bochy are stretching their budget thin enough as they try to lock in Lincecum and Cain, while still shopping around for an offense. I wouldn’t expect either Lopez or Mota to be high priorities this offseason.