The St. Louis Cardinals added one of the few remaining free agents this week, inking infielder Felipe Lopez to a one-year $1 million deal, with performance incentives that could take it as high as $1.2 million total.
The 29 year-old Lopez joins a solid St. Louis team that didn't have a clear need for an infielder, so it is questionable how much playing time Lopez will log. It's possible that the Cards acquired Lopez in case Brendan Ryan's wrist injury recovery has complications or if rookie third baseman David Freese struggles as a new big leaguer. Lopez has played all over the infield and even in the outfield over his career, and even made an All-Star team and snagged a Silver Slugger award back in 2005 as a member of the Cincinnati Reds.
When given adequate playing time, Lopez can contribute to a team by hitting for a good batting average and decent power numbers. Last year, with Arizona and Milwaukee, Lopez batted .310 with 9 homers and 57 RBI, scoring 88 runs while posting a .383 OBP and .810 OPS. Lopez has some speed and stole 44 bases in 2006 and 24 in 2007 before posting just 8 in 2008 and 6 last season.
From a fantasy standpoint, Lopez's value is determine solely by his playing time, but if he sees the field regularly he could boost a batting average and provide fair power numbers from a middle infield spot (where he is most valuable on a fantasy roster). He could also post double-digit stolen base numbers if given the opportunity to do so. He's not worth investing in until you know how much he'll actually play, but if he is performing up to expectation you have to think that manager Tony LaRussa will find a way to get him in the lineup every day.