Braves sign Reynaldo López to 3-year, $30M contract
The Atlanta Braves bolstered their pitching staff by signing right-hander Reynaldo López to a three-year, $30-million contract, the team announced Monday.
López's backloaded deal will see him earn $4 million in 2024, and $11 million in the following two seasons. He also gets an $8-million club option for 2027 with a $4-million buyout.
Although he's worked primarily as a reliever since 2021, the Braves plan to stretch López out as a starter in spring training, sources told Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. López arrived in the majors as a starter but was moved to the bullpen in 2021 after prolonged struggles in the rotation, and he subsequently reinvented himself as a reliable reliever.
The Braves see him as a potentially versatile arm who could work as a swingman, Rosenthal reports. His role next year will be determined at the end of spring.
López's career splits
The 29-year-old enjoyed a solid season as a reliever in 2023, posting a 3.27 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 83 strikeouts, and six saves over 66 innings split between the Chicago White Sox, Los Angeles Angels, and Cleveland Guardians. He found particular success with his fastball, holding opponents to a meager .188/.226/.319 slash line against the pitch, and didn't allow a run in 12 appearances with the Guardians down the stretch.
López began last year with the White Sox and was traded to the Angels ahead of the trade deadline, before being claimed on waivers by Cleveland in late August.
One of the few issues for López in 2023 was walks. His 4.6 BB/9 rate was the highest of his career over a 162-game campaign. However, he countered that by posting a career-best 11.3 K/9 rate and allowing only eight home runs.
Originally signed by the Washington Nationals out of the Dominican Republic in 2012, López was traded to the White Sox as a rookie and spent seven seasons on the South Side of Chicago. He owns a lifetime 4.32 ERA, 4.45 FIP, and 1.30 WHIP with 617 strikeouts and six saves in 241 career appearances (97 starts) across eight seasons with four teams.
Assuming he works out of the bullpen, López brings another quality late-inning arm to the Braves' relief corps behind closer Raisel Iglesias. Atlanta may also consider him a better potential option as a fifth (or occasional sixth) starter over Huascar Ynoa.
This is the second major pitching acquisition by Atlanta in the past week. On Thursday, the team acquired left-handed reliever Aaron Bummer - López's longtime bullpen-mate - from the White Sox for a package of five players.