The Phillies are in serious talks with the Houston Astros and may be on the verge of trading for 29-year-old righthanded reliever Wilton Lopez, reports Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com.
If the Phils pull this off, it would be a great, under-the-radar trade. Many baseball fans haven’t heard of Lopez because he’s been trapped under the weight of the 100-loss Astros, but he’s actually been one of the game’s more reliable late relievers in recent seasons.
Since 2010, Lopez has a 2.64 ERA and 1.13 WHIP. He’s walked just 31 batters in 204.1 innings, and his strikeout rate has increased in each of the last three seasons. He’s in his prime at 29, and would come very cheap. He made just $515,000 last season and figures to make between $1-1.5 million in 2013.
This news comes a day after Ryan Madson agreed to a deal with the Angels and Jonathan Broxton re-upped with the Reds for three years and more than $20 million. For a team so close to the luxury tax, it makes sense for the Phillies to pursue a trade for a reliever than pay $8 million per year for one.
It will be interesting to see what the Phillies give up if they acquire Lopez. Last year at this time, the Astros fleeced the Red Sox by selling high on reliever Mark Melancon to acquire shortstop Jed Lowrie and pitcher Kyle Weiland.
UPDATE: Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that the deal is agreed upon. But there is no word that Lopez, who is reportedly in Philadelphia, has passed his physical. Stay tuned.
UPDATE (3:30 p.m.): Salisbury reports that the two sides are exchanging physicals and that the Phillies will trade “two players who have played in the upper levels of the minors if the deal is finalized.”