Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Phillies finalizing deal for Astros' reliever Wilton Lopez

It seems the Phillies are finalizing the details of a trade that will make Wilton Lopez their set-up reliever for 2013 in exchange for a pair of prospects. While nothing is official and names won't be divulged until then, a source said the prospects are expected to be big-league ready sometime in 2013. One of those prospects is expected to be catcher Sebastian Valle, who became expendable when the Phils acquired Tommy Joseph in the Hunter Pence deal with San Francisco last season and highly impressed the organization with his potential. Valle (22) and Joseph (21) are at about the same spot in their development, and thanks to a solid reputation for developing catchers the Phillies are getting value for that position. The other prospect likely will be one of the handful of relievers the Phils brought up last season (Justin DeFratus, Mike Stutes, Michael Schwimer, Jake Diekman).
Lopez, 29, was 6-3 with 10 saves, a 2.17 ERA and 1.04 WHIP for an otherwise woeful Astros squad in 2012. Over the last three seasons he has averaged 68 innings and has a 2.64 ERA and 1.126 WHIP. He is in his first year of arbitration eligibility, so the Phils are getting a late bloomer in his prime and getting paid a reasonable wage.
Lopez would set up Jonathan Papelbon and should allow Antonio Bastardo to move into more of a specialist/7th inning role. It also takes the heat off young, talented right-hander Phillippe Aumont, who showed big-time potential as a reliever last season. Throw in Jeremy Horst and Josh Lindblom and the Phillies suddenly have a bullpen with youth, talent and experience.

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