Pirates should stay far away from Jorge López despite bullpen woes

Don't even think about it
Philadelphia Phillies v New York Mets
Philadelphia Phillies v New York Mets / Rich Schultz/GettyImages

The Pirates' bullpen has struggled. The Pirates' bullpen needs a lot of help. The Pirates invested quite a bit of money into their bullpen this offseason. These are all very true statements and, come this time of year, there are options all over, while more teams than not are battling significant bullpen strain. Even relievers who dominated in 2023 are not immune; Blue Jays standoutErik Swanson was recently demoted to Triple-A in hopes of regaining his former self. There is no such thing as a sure thing.

A bullpen featuring David Bednar and Aroldis Chapman as the high-leverage options, with guys like Dauri Moreta, Hunter Stratton and Luis Ortiz behind them, seemed like a potential strength of a team reliant on pitching. After battling injuries (Moreta underwent Tommy John earlier this year) and control issues, though, this bullpen has really struggled as of late. Against the Giants, the bullpen really cost them an opportunity at a series win and possibly a series sweep.

As this bullpen looks to rebound and match the efforts of the starting rotation (and the offense, surprisingly), there are questions about where those improvements will come from. Sure, Bednar improving from his 6.45 ERA and Chapman actually finding the strike zone (10.3 BB/9) would go a long way in solidifying this bullpen. But where does the rest of the help come from?

Possibly, after one of the more notable and controversial stories we have seen as baseball fans this year, it could come from 2022 All-Star Jorge López. The right-hander has spent time with six teams over nine years in MLB. He has a solid fastball that sits in the mid-90s and one of the better sliders in the game, though he has struggled to translate that to solid results this season.

But his 2024 season with the Mets has actually been better, on the surface, than it seemed. In 26.1 innings, he has a 3.76 ERA, 6.5 K/9, and 3.8 BB/9. This seems like a solid arm that would add a different element to the Pirates bullpen; it would give them someone that doesn't necessarily strike out a lot of guys, but tends to limit the damage (even though his expected statistics aren't quite on par with the surface results, especially in terms of allowing hard contact).

Should Pirates pursue former Mets reliever Jorge López?

The issue here is that López has drawn a lot of attention to himself in recent days. Granted, there have been multiple people coming to his defense after his disrespectful implosion in the Mets' clubhouse. That includes Mark Viviano, who covered the Orioles extensively and stated, "In my three decades covering the Orioles, Jorge López may be the kindest player I interacted with- a genuine good person, beloved by his teammates."

Lopez seemed very emotional in his interview that is circulating all over the internet, and was DFA'd by the Mets based on the perception of disrespectful behavior, as well as the glove toss seen 'round the world. The particulars of what he did and did not say to reporters weren't necessarily the driving force of that decision (and, quite importantly, López's meltdown may have been spurred on by circumstances away from baseball, as his son, who celebrated his birthday on Wednesday, battles a rare medical condition). Nothing that López did on the field hurt the Mets in a distinct way; he might actually have represented one of their better bullpen arms, despite him being DFA'd.

López might be an effective reliever who could provide valuable innings for the Pirates bullpen. However, with some of the guys that they have back there looking to rebound, it just might not be worth the risk to bring in López after all of the national media exposure. It is likely that Bednar will return to his former self, while guys like Chris Stratton and Colin Holderman should provide solid innings.

Hopefully, López can take the time away from the spotlight, regroup, and get an opportunity to help another ball club. He seems like a veteran pitcher that still has something left in the tank. But now is not the time.