The Giants have touched base with the Royals about infielder Nicky Lopez, according to MLB.com reporter Mark Feinsand. Lopez has provided solid defense for the Royals, but his offense has not progressed enough to give him starting opportunities, and he has found himself behind Bobby Witt Jr. and Michael Massey in the infield. The 28-year-old is hitting .213/.322/.284 in 183 plate appearances this season, but has been worth 1.1 WAR, according to Baseball Reference.
Despite a lackluster bat, Lopez provides value to contenders with his glove. He was a Gold Glove finalist in 2020 and probably should have been a finalist in 2021 as well. The Giants are dead last in baseball in Defensive Runs Saved at the shortstop position and starter Brandon Crawford is currently on the Injured List, as is middle infielder Thairo Estrada. The 36-year-old Crawford is a free agent at the end of the season, while Lopez would not be a free agent until after the 2025 season and is making just $3.7 million this year. Feinsand reports the Giants are also talking to the Cardinals about infielder Paul DeJong.
The return for Lopez wouldn’t be massive, but there is a market for glove-first, light-hitting infielders in recent years. Last year the Phillies gave up a fringe-Major League pitcher in JoJo Romero to the Cardinals for utility infielder Edmundo Sosa, who was part of their post-season run.
Lopez was originally a fifth-round pick by the Royals out of Creighton in 2016. In 517 games, he has hit .248/.311/.317 with 39 steals and has been worth 5.2 WAR, according to Baseball Reference. In recent weeks he has been playing some new positions to show off his versatility, including first base and left field. With veteran Matt Duffy on the roster and rookie Samad Taylor now up, and with Nick Loftin playing well in Triple-A, the Royals are pretty well stocked at utility infielder, making Lopez expendable. Other teams that could use a middle infielder are the Marlins and Yankees.
Feinsand also reports the Royals “continue to draw significant interest in relievers Scott Barlow and Carlos Hernández”, noting that Barlow is more likely to be traded.