Detroit Tigers rumors: Javier Lopez discussions occurred

Jennifer Stewart

Even after trading for Jose Veras, the Tigers appear to be trying to improve in the bullpen

The Tigers discussed left-handed reliever Javier Lopez with the Giants, Fox Sports' Jon Paul Morosi and CBS's Danny Knobler both reported on Twitter late Monday. That comes after Detroit acquired right-handed reliever Jose Veras from the Astros. However, ESPN's Buster Olney adds that the "asking price on Javier Lopez ... is said to be really high."

Lopez has a 1.42 ERA after 45 innings of work in 2013. His FIP is 2.06. His strikeout rate has increased to 24.6 percent of plate appearances this year, quite an improvement over the 18 percent of outcomes last season. His walk rate has decreased incrementally. He has yet to allow a home run. He's mostly faced left-handed batters, with 71 of the 111 plate appearances against them.

The Tigers do have Phil Coke in the bullpen. And so long as manager Jim Leyland doesn't burn him out against righties, he can still be useful. Left-handed batters hit .236/.274/.345 against Coke; righties .305/.408/.508. Lopez has better splits against both RHB and LHB. The Tigers also have a left-handed reliever in Drew Smyly as well, though he's more of an all-around late-innings guy at this point.

It may be possible they'd really like a third left-hander in the pen -- Darin Downs served that role until his injury earlier in the year. He's currently rehabbing with Triple-A Toledo after suffering some shoulder issues. Downs started the season well, but seemed to lose it in June before finally hitting the DL early in July. During that time his ERA rose from 3.00 to 5.18.

In any case, it seems clear the Tigers will continue trying to improve before the non-waiver trade deadline.

If the Tigers are trying to find a replacement for shortstop Jhonny Peralta, who may end up suspended due to ties to the Biogenesis clinic, they're doing so quietly. Sunday, Jon Heyman of CBS wrote, " Curiously, the Tigers have shown no indication of looking for a possible shortstop replacement."

ht MLBTR

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