Odd news broke this afternoon when it was reported that the San Francisco Giants had re-signed Javier Lopez. The signing itself wasn’t odd – it had been highly speculated that both parties were mutually interested in a multi-year contract, but the timing seemed……well, pretty early. Questions started to arise. Is this the end of Jeremy Affeldt in San Francisco? Less than an hour later, we had our answer. Nope.
In addition to Lopez who the Giants signed for two years, 4.5 million – the Giants also exercised their $5 million dollar team option on bullpen arm Jeremy Affeldt, completing their daily shopping spree at a crisp $9.25 million.
As soon as the announcement was made, while many Giant fans were pleased that two of the best left handed bullpen arms in the league were back in black and orange, there was some obvious confusion as to how/why the money was spent. After all, we’ve been bombarded with rumors and articles telling us the Giants are tight on cash – and they are, but bringing back both Javier Lopez and Jeremy Affeldt was the correct move for the Giants.
Yes, financially, it is a lot of moo-la to spend on two bullpen arms – especially when you’re supposedly supposed to be bargain shopping and improving the offense. I can’t argue with that opinion at all – but, this was a move the Giants had to make, plain and simple.
The current San Francisco Giants are built on pitching. Having elite starters without an elite bullpen is pointless, and vice versa. Javier Lopez and Jeremy Affeldt are two elite relief pitchers and are cores in the Giants’ pen. As much as I love Dan Runzler, he simply hasn’t shown the ability to be reliable and going into the season with only Lopez or Affeldt as your only veteran lefty when you so heavily rely on elite pitching isn’t acceptable. In addition to that, Jeremy Affledt had a $500,000 dollar buyout written into his contract – in short, if the Giants were to have bought Affledt out, they’d essentially be paying him half a million dollars to risk losing him to another team in free agency, all to save what? A million? A million and a half at most on a new deal? For the Giants, penny pitching on a million dollars or so with the risk of losing Jeremy to free agency wasn’t worth it – and I can’t blame them. The million dollars or so they’d have saved on a potential new deal (after the $500K buyout was included) wasn’t going to be the difference in a incoming free agent’s deal nor will it hamper the Giants attempts to re-up Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain.
Had the Giants bought out Affeldt and luckily brought him back (which was far from a given), they’d be looking at a low-end salary of $3 million or so for Affeldt. Add in his $500K buyout they’d have had to pay, you’re pushing $3.5 million on the conservative side. Is the 1 million/1.5 million difference worth the risk of losing a large part of your extremely valuable and important bullpen? I certainly don’t think so.
Yes, it’s a lot of money to put towards to bullpen arms, but it was needed. The Giants win with pitching. For all that’s been said about the Giants’ upper management pockets, they’re going to give Sabean an extra million or two if he needs it at some point. And if in the rare case that Runzler proves himself or the Giants fall out of the race early, they are certainly going to have zero trouble finding a suitor for either Affeldt or Lopez.
The Giants made they move they had to make.