29-year-old infielder Felipe Lopez returns to the St. Louis Cardinals, for whom he batted .385 in 43 late-season games in 2008 after having been released by Washington. After becoming a free agent again following the season, the switch-hitter split his 2009 season between Arizona and Milwaukee, posting a .310/.383/.427 line.
Lopez offers the Cardinals value in several important areas. He provides veteran presence off the bench as well as being a switch-hitter who is proficient from both sides. Lopez can serve as a left-handed pinch-hitter on a club that is right-handed heavy or provide a right-handed platoon option with Skip Schumaker at second base.
Primarily a second baseman defensively, Lopez played six positions in his earlier stint in St. Louis. He didn’t pitch, catch or play in centerfield while wearing the Cardinals uniform in 2008, but now he apparently will have a chance to do that, too.
Lopez could also offer a proven veteran alternative at third base if rookie David Freese falters or could become the club’s fourth outfielder, a position with no veteran reserves as of yet. Seeing a minimum of 450 at-bats for the Cardinals with multiple position eligibility seems most likely.
Lopez’ arrival has several affects on the Cardinals bench. Rookie Tyler Greene has likely lost any chance of making the club. Same with non-roster invitee Ruben Gotay. Veteran Julio Lugo’s at-bats will be reduced, but both he may also see time as a reserve outfielder or even perhaps become trade bait for veteran relief help. Almost all of Lugo's 2010 salary is being paid by the Boston Red Sox.