Pablo López made no sense for Yankees, perfect fit for Twins

Adam Weinrib
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - OCTOBER 02: Pablo Lopez #49 of the Miami Marlins throws a pitch against the Milwaukee Brewers at American Family Field on October 02, 2022 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - OCTOBER 02: Pablo Lopez #49 of the Miami Marlins throws a pitch against the Milwaukee Brewers at American Family Field on October 02, 2022 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images) /
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Two major names were exchanged by the Minnesota Twins and Miami Marlins on Friday, and the Yankees may someday regret not making overtures on only half the cargo.

Batting champion and Aaron Judge threatener Luis Arraez will move on to Miami; he’d have been a good fit for a Yankees lineup that could use a bit of variance and gap-to-gap ability, but didn’t wedge cleanly into a crowded infield this year. The Twins, for their troubles, will receive coveted right-hander Pablo López, whose reputation precedes him (and clouds his resumé somewhat).

Far too much ink has been spilled regarding López and the Yankees. The connection crested last summer, when rumors claimed that Brian Cashman was this close to sending Gleyber Torres to Miami in exchange for López when fate (or Kim Ng) intervened. We may never know where that deal really stood, but that moment in time was hardly the only connection between López and the Bronx.

Perhaps it was the dearth of pitching options who were readily available during New York’s recent title window, but there’s seemingly always been focus on prying the oft-injured López away from the pitching-rich Marlins.

He could certainly help the Twins contend for the AL Central after finishing off a 3.0-WAR season of 180 innings, 174 strikeouts, and a 3.75 ERA. However, the numbers indicate that he has several significant faults, the likes of which modern Yankee fans have no patience for.

Yankees didn’t need Pablo Lopez, now headed to Minnesota Twins in trade

For too long, the Yankees have ended up taking the wrong swings in pitching trades, even if the plan seemed sound at the time.

Sonny Gray was certainly the best available name at the 2018 trade deadline! Though revisionist history indicates that must’ve been a mistake from the jump, it seemed like a “win now” move at the time.

Frankie Montas was the second-best pitcher available at last year’s deadline, and Yankee fans rejoiced at the addition … before they realized Montas, who faced his fair share of struggles on the road away from the Oakland Coliseum, wasn’t fully healthy and hadn’t warded off his shoulder stiffness yet. To this day, he remains damaged.

López certainly has a similar profile to Montas. Under the “intense” pressure of playing before 2,000-person crowds in Miami, he seemed to thrive, but his career road ERA is over a full run higher (4.54 vs. 3.45). He also has a documented history of IL stints; López made 32 starts in 2022, his career-high by 11. 20 starts has always been a more accurate baseline of expectations for the changeup-heavy righty.

Everywhere you look, his profile — especially in the wake of surrendering a haul for Montas — looks less and less appealing. His worst ERA in any month comes in September and October, when the games garner more eyeballs and the body tends to break down (5.17 in 17 starts, far too small a sample for a 27-year-old vet. When he receives 3-5 runs of support, he has a pedestrian 4.38 ERA in 38 starts. His fastball spin is lower-tier (32nd percentile) and he gets barreled up with regularity (19th percentile in barrel percentage in 2022).

In theory, a high-upside No. 3 like López appears to have value. In reality, he’s unreliable as an innings eater, and he presented too much risk for a Yankees team to pay an equivalent price to Arraez.

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