Orioles, J. Lopez agree to contract Free-agent catcher expected to sign for 3 years, $23 million; O's still interested in Guerrero By Roch Kubatko Sun Staff Originally published December 22, 2003
With an elite shortstop crossed off their winter shopping list, the Orioles have reached an agreement with another high-profile free agent, catcher Javy Lopez, and an announcement could come as early as today.
Team officials were prepared to work late into last night while negotiating a deal with Lopez's agent, Chuck Berry. The Orioles apparently will sign Lopez for $23 million over three years.
It's possible the Orioles will withhold making an announcement until tomorrow. Either way, they are adding another big bat to their revamped lineup after signing Miguel Tejada during the winter meetings in New Orleans.
The two sides were trying to complete the paperwork last night. They'd still have to arrange a physical and get Lopez to Baltimore.
When Berry was asked earlier in the evening if the negotiations were nearing completion, he said, "To use a bad play of words, you're in the ballpark."
The Orioles have been unwilling to provide much information on the negotiations, but vice president of baseball operations Mike Flanagan said, "We feel like we're moving forward."
Not long ago, they seemed to be heading toward catcher Ivan Rodriguez, who was offered $24 million over three years, compared with $18 million over three years for Lopez.
Rodriguez told a Miami television reporter Thursday that the Orioles added a fourth year to their proposal, but executive vice president Jim Beattie said none of the team's offers had been modified.
It's believed certain members of the front office became irritated with Rodriguez's claim, which they viewed as a negotiating ploy by his agent, Scott Boras, that might have backfired.
A team official said last night the Orioles were beginning to move in the direction of Lopez before the controversy, but the timing of Lopez's emergence as the front-runner is undeniably curious.
"We've really been talking extensively at the winter meetings and since the winter meetings," Berry said. "The dialogue has continued, and we've been on a pretty steady track throughout."
Lopez batted .328 with 43 homers and 109 RBIs for the Atlanta Braves, who failed to offer him arbitration after the season. His age (33) and the fact that his offensive outburst - he set a single-season record for home runs for a major league catcher - came in a contract year might have thinned interest in him on the free-agent market.
The Orioles don't particularly care. They need to upgrade the position after alternating Brook Fordyce, Geronimo Gil and Robert Machado last season. Only Gil remains in the organization, and he'll vie for the backup job in spring training.
"With any free agent, once you've been talking to teams, the euphoria of being a free agent wears off and you're anxious to get it resolved," Berry said earlier last night. "If it's Baltimore, he'll be very happy to play there. The only drawback is being in the same division as New York and Boston.
"Baltimore is a quality city as far as the quality of life and the opportunities outside the ballpark."
The Orioles also maintain strong interest in outfielder Vladimir Guerrero and will seek to strengthen their rotation after declining to offer contracts Saturday to pitchers Jason Johnson and Damian Moss.
Considering Johnson was one of the few pitchers who consistently shut down the Red Sox, from a head to head point of view the O's are weaker now than they were when the season ended. The bats will help keep them above Tampa, but they don't come close to matching up pitching wise against Boston, New York and Toronto. And, even with Tejada, Vlad and Lopez, their batting order still is weaker than Boston, New York and Toronto.
The Cubs, probably, if they can get him to sign a shorter term deal, or get him to sign for a lower price over the next 3-4 years. Although, with the resigning of Paul Bako, and the signing of Michael Barrett to a one year deal, I don't believe they'll really be in the hunt for Pudge.
The thing for Pudge has been that he was the O's first choice both this year and last. The O's beef with him was the fact he started spouting off to the TV reporter about the fourth year he wasn't getting. And that was the end of that...
Originally posted by redsoxnationAnd, even with Tejada, Vlad and Lopez, their batting order still is weaker than Boston, New York and Toronto.
I don't know about all that. It depends on the A-Rod situation before we know that for certain...
Man that dumbass Angelos could screw up a one car funeral...what crack is this guy smoking signing Lopez for 8 million a year, the guy isnt a good defensive catcher, cant throw people out and is a slightly above average hitter over his career...Angelos, is screwing himself the same way he did last time, its like de ja vu over at Camden
man Varitek is gonna be worth at least that if not more
“I don’t feel bad at all about keeping the scholarship. I have studied hard my whole life (earning a 3.8 GPA at Yorktown). I am captain of the academic team, student council secretary, member of the chess club, and play the flute in the marching band and all I was looking at was getting a lousy couple thousand dollars of my school paid for with academic scholarships. The other Jason gets a 2.5 GPA and the NCAA minimum score on his SAT and he gets a full ride because he can run fast and put a stupid orange ball in a hoop. It looks like Coach Keady is going to be stuck with me for four years.”---Jason Smith, a kid who signed a letter of intent to Purdue that was meant for another Jason Smith in his school (who is the basketball star of the school)
Agree 100% wordlife, Javy had a monster year on a contract year, perfect timing. As a Braves fan, fellow Puerto Rican and a almost double A catcher: Javi is not worth half of that contract, plain and simple. He is a premier curve ball hitter, that's it. Nothing pissed me off when Javy went into these big funks of just swinging at everything in site. He is very inconsistent. Defensively, he does nothing, he doesn't command the field, can not call games on his own, throws wildly and weakly to all bases and always leaves his five hole open when blocking a ball in the plate. Now with the change of league, I really think he won't even top .280 unless he gets in the 5th spot on the lineup behind Vlad, then he maybe has a shot at .300. Power number should drop to 25 HR's and 80 RBI's and no more than a 35% throw out percentage.
Oh and have you heard about his stupid clause, he has to be between 210 and 213 pounds all the 8 months of playtime and he will receive a 5 MILLION dollar bonus! Damn!
Javy is a great guy, I’ve spent a couple of time chatting with him when he's in attendance at some of the winter league games in the past, before he became big. But if i were a GM, i can not justify taking Javy over Pudge even if Pudge was talking smack before everything was done.
The only thing Javy got for him right now is his hot sister, Elaine. (I'm trying to get photos)
His agent is named Chuck Berry? Go, Go Javy go...Javy B. Goode! B^)
As others have said, signing all these hitters doesn't do jack if they don't have pitching. You've got one team in the division with Mussina, Kevin Brown, and Vasquez, and another with Pedro, Schilling, and Kevin Lowe. The O's aren't going to compete with that.
I'm going to miss having Javy on the same team as Greg Maddux, simply because it made it really easy to know when he was catching and when he wasn't, and that's very useful for my ESPN fantasy baseball team, especially on weekends when so many catchers take days off. Of course, he wasn't likely to end up on the same team with Maddux even if he hadn't signed with the O's, so I'd be missing that anyway.
There's a big difference between having a drug policy with loopholes because the last collective bargaining agreement just cost you half a season and some battles were better fought another day and encouraging doping in a sport on your watch.