10:11 am: The Twins and Orioles have announced the trade.
9:36 am: The Twins and Orioles Agree on a Transaction That Brings All-Star Closer Jorge Lopez from Baltimore to Minnesota, as first reported Andy Kostka of the Baltimore Sun. The Twins send left-handed pitching prospect Cade Povichiright handed Yennier Cano and some pitching prospects to Baltimore in return, Mark Feinsand of MLB.com reports. right-handed John Nunez and left-handed Juan Rojas are the other two names in the deal, tweets Jeff Passan of ESPN.
Lopez, 29, has had one of the most notable turning points in Major League Baseball this season, going from a claim of distance that risked losing his roster spot in Baltimore for much of last season, to a first-time All-Star who has thrown his way into the ranks of the game’s elite relievers. The former second round pick and top prospect never got off the ground as a starting pitcher, but has been outstanding since moving to the bullpen full-time late last season. So far in 2022, Lopez has pitched 48 innings with a 1.68 ERA, 27.6% strikeout rate, 8.7% walk rate, and a massive 60% ground-ball rate that ranks fifth. in baseball among MLB illuminators.
It’s a brief example, to be sure, but Lopez’s move to the “pen last August” foreshadowed the outbreak to come. He began to strongly favor his sinker over his four-seamer, saw both his groundball speed and speed make significant leaps, pitching 8 1/3 innings with just two runs, a 10-to-2 K/BB ratio and a 66.7 % grounding percentage. Dating back to last year’s shift to the bullpen, Lopez has a 1.75 ERA, 27.9% strikeout rate, 8.3% walk rate, 61% grounder rate and an average speed of 98 mph on his sinker.
The Twins are clearly confident in his ability to keep up with this new production, and what makes him even more appealing is the fact that Lopez is in control all season. He’s also earning an excellently affordable $1.5 million this year, so he’ll barely have an impact on the 2022 payroll and won’t break the bank in 2023 or 2024.
Lopez gives the Twins a more powerful to pair with flamethrowing rookie John Duran and breakout righty Griffin Jax at the back of what was an otherwise awful bullpen. Like Duran and Jax, Lopez gives manager Rocco Baldelli the flexibility of knowing he can cover more than one inning if needed. Eleven of Lopez’s 44 appearances this season earned him at least four outs.
More to come.