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Boston Herald
Boston Herald
2 Sep 2023
Tribune News Service

NextImg:Orioles claim Jorge López off waivers, reuniting with All-Star relief pitcher they traded last season

The Orioles are adding a familiar face to their bullpen.

Baltimore is reuniting with right-hander Jorge López, the All-Star closer it traded last season, after claiming him on waivers from the Miami Marlins, the team announced Saturday afternoon.

López, who has struggled this season with the Minnesota Twins and Miami Marlins, is not postseason eligible because he was not in the organization before Sept. 1. The Orioles designated right-hander Logan Gillaspie for assignment to make room for López on the 40-man roster. A move to add López to the 28-man roster has yet to be made.

López, an eight-year veteran who has pitched for five MLB teams, was an ineffective starting pitcher for the Orioles in 2020 and 2021. He went 5-16 for the rebuilding club and posted a 6.07 ERA in 121 2/3 innings in 2021.

But he transitioned into a short-relief role in 2022 and had the best season of his big league career. He was one of the best relievers in the American League, earning a trip to the All-Star Game as the lone player to represent the Orioles. Through July, he saved 19 games and posted a 1.68 ERA before Baltimore traded him at the deadline to the Twins.

The trade was controversial at the time given the Orioles were in a wild-card chase, but López has since struggled, posting a 4.37 ERA down the stretch with Minnesota, a 5.09 ERA with the Twins in the first half of 2023 and a 9.26 ERA with the Marlins after they traded for him in July.

Meanwhile, the haul Baltimore received for López, 30, looks even better now that he’s back with the organization. Left-hander Cade Povich, the best of three pitching prospects the Orioles got back for López, is in Triple-A and ranked by Baseball America as Baltimore’s top pitching prospect still in the minors. And Yennier Cano, an overlooked part of the trade at the time, has blossomed this season into one of the best relief pitchers in the sport with a 1.56 ERA.

While López can’t pitch in the postseason, he could bolster the bullpen down the stretch if he returns to form. The Orioles are in need of relievers capable of pitching in high-leverage situations, especially since closer Félix Bautista was placed on the 15-day injured list with an unspecified injury to his ulnar collateral ligament.

López is out of minor league options and has one more year of club control with 2024 as his third and final year of arbitration.