Right-hander Jorge Lopez and the New York Mets agreed on a one-year, $2 million contract Thursday, sources told ESPN, adding another reliever to a team that has spent the past week bolstering its organization depth.
Lopez, 30, struggled with three teams this year after a career-best 2022 in which he looked the part of a front-line reliever. With a velocity bump from his move from the rotation to the bullpen, Lopez rode a 98 mph fastball and heavy curveball to a 2.54 ERA. The regression he showed after his midseason trade from Baltimore to Minnesota continued into 2023, when the Twins traded him to Miami and he later went back to the Orioles without similar success.
The stuff nevertheless remained strong, and the Mets are hopeful Lopez can return to form after posting a 5.95 ERA in 59 innings in 2023 with the three teams. New York, under new president of baseball operations David Stearns, in the past week claimed a pair of catchers (Cooper Hummel, Tyler Heineman) off waivers, signed two pitchers (Kyle Crick, Andre Scrubb) and an infielder (Jose Iglesias) to minor league deals, added another reliever (Michael Tonkin) on a split major league deal, and guaranteed $13 million to starter Luis Severino in hopes of a return to past excellence.
The Mets' pitching depth going into the winter after a deeply disappointing 75-87 season called for significant additions, and Stearns is attempting to do what he did in Milwaukee, where often-overlooked relievers thrived and turned the Brewers' bullpen into a weapon.
Lopez rejoins Mets closer Edwin Diaz, his teammate on Team Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic, during which Diaz ruptured the patellar tendon in his right knee celebrating a victory over the Dominican Republic. Diaz's return deepens a bullpen with left-hander Brooks Raley the only other pitcher whose role is clearly defined.
The Mets remain on the hunt for pitching, with Japanese right-hander Yoshinobu Yamamoto the clearest target. Yamamoto, whose suitors include the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers, Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, San Francisco Giants and Toronto Blue Jays, could command a contract that, with a posting fee, nears $300 million.