Acquiring Reynaldo Lopez turned out to be just about the only smart thing Perry Minasian did at a historically bad trade deadline. The Lopez acquisition itself is tainted because the trade included Lucas Giolito, who was the true centerpiece.
Lopez pitched well for the Los Angeles Angels out of the bullpen for a month before the team fell completely out of playoff contention and placed him on waivers. He'd finish the season with the Guardians before hitting free agency.
Lopez felt like a realistic target for the Angels to pursue for their bullpen, but the Braves had other plans. Atlanta inked the right-hander on a three-year deal early on in free agency, adding another arm to an already loaded bullpen. Or at least that's what was initially assumed.
Braves making Reynaldo Lopez a starter feels like something the Angels would do
The Braves intending on stretching Lopez out to potentially be an option out of the rotation. They think he can be useful both as a starter and as a reliever. Lopez came up through the minors as a starter and does have two seasons of 30+ starts in his MLB career, but it's abundantly clear that his best work has come out of the bullpen. Why exactly is Atlanta doing this?
In 97 MLB starts, Lopez has a 4.73 ERA. In 144 relief appearances, that number shoots down all the way to 3.01. Over a full run and a half difference, and Atlanta wants him to stretch out? I get wanting versatility, but why?
It's been well-documented that the Braves are searching for starting pitching help this offseason after another disappointing postseason exit. It was assumed that help would come from an arm like Sonny Gray or Jordan Montgomery, not Reynaldo Lopez. This feels like a way to find a cheaper solution, something the Angels would do.
While Lopez as a starter clearly hasn't been great in his MLB career, it's very possible it does with the Braves as it feels like most buttons they push turn out to work in their favor. Still, for now, it's hard to not be at least a little bit skeptical about how this will work out. Thankfully the Angels aren't the ones testing it out.