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Lefty Lopez drawing interest; Giants remain in mix

Agent has 'very preliminary' talks with other clubs; reliever would like to return

SAN FRANCISCO -- Javier Lopez has prompted interest from a "significant number" of teams, his representative said Thursday, but the free-agent left-hander still harbors hopes of returning to the Giants.

"I'm continuing to talk to the Giants," said Barry Meister, Lopez's agent.

As the 2013 season concluded, Lopez repeated his desire to stay with San Francisco, which acquired him at the non-waiver Trade Deadline in 2010. Since then, Lopez has thrived for the Giants, posting a 14-4 record with a 2.26 ERA in 236 appearances.

Meister also has spoken with other clubs about Lopez, though he stressed that talks were "very preliminary" at this juncture. Open bidding for free agents began Tuesday. Meister wouldn't place a figure on the "significant number" of teams that have called him about Lopez. But given the relative scarcity of effective left-handers out of the bullpen, it's safe to assume that at least eight to 10 clubs have Lopez on their wish list.

Moreover, Lopez is coming off his best season, intensifying competition for his services. He recorded a career-best 1.83 ERA and led the NL by allowing only 10.5 percent (6-of-57) of his inherited baserunners to score. The only free-agent lefty relievers who performed nearly as well as Lopez were J.P. Howell (2.03 ERA) and Scott Downs (2.49).

As a result, Lopez is virtually assured of receiving a contract with an average annual value exceeding the $4.25 million he earned last season.

Chris Haft is a reporter for Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, and follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat.
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