SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants want to retain left-hander Javier Lopez, but they have competition.
The Washington Nationals have reached out to the sidewinding specialist, according to the Washington Post. Nationals GM Mike Rizzo sent a text to Lopez’s agent, Barry Meister, last week and there is a “mutual level of interest,” Meister told the Post.
Lopez was born in Puerto Rico but grew up in Fairfax, Virginia –just outside the District -- and his wife has roots there as well. He and is in the process of selling his Denver-area house and moving back to the East Coast. So the Nationals represent an obvious fit, and they’re also expected to contend in the near term.
The Giants continue to have dialogue with Lopez, who told me in September that his preference was to stay.
“Obviously we’ll keep things fluid with the Giants,” Lopez said. “This is where I’d like to continue to play.”
Lopez also said at the time that he would give the Giants the courtesy of matching or beating another offer, should he find one to his liking with another club.
“You work hard to get the opportunity to go to free agency but that’s the respect I’ll give the Giants,” Lopez said. “Winning two World Series here and playing in front of sellout crowds every day, that’s what every player strives to do and I have that here.”
Lopez was 4-2 with a 1.83 ERA in 69 games and held left-handers to a .156 average. In three-plus years as a Giant, he’s faced 605 batters and allowed just two home runs. The specialist was forced to pitch more against right-handers this season (they hit .296 off him) because of Jeremy Affeldt’s groin injury.
“Being so lefty-specific for so long, I’ve gotten away from some of the things that get right-handers out,” Lopez said. “I’d like to work on some of those things.”
If he has to do it elsewhere, he can manage.
“I’m used to bouncing around,” he said. “Just as long as I get a uni, I can roll with it.”