After stellar season, Lopez hopes to return to Giants

After stellar season, Lopez hopes to return to Giants

After stellar season, Lopez hopes to return to Giants

SAN FRANCISCO -- With Hunter Pence signed and contract talks regarding Tim Lincecum having begun, the Giants' timetable for a deal with potential free agent Javier Lopez could be accelerated.

General manager Brian Sabean stated that he wants to retain Lopez, who quietly has solidified himself as one of the Major Leagues' top left-handed relievers.

"He's very key to our bullpen in his flexibility," Sabean said of Lopez, who earned $4.25 million this year.

Entering Sunday, Lopez had inherited 57 baserunners, the National League's third-highest total. Yet only six of them had scored. That's 10.5 percent, best in the league.

Lopez finished with a team-high 69 appearances. He was unscored upon in all but seven of them. His 1.068 WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched) was the best of his 11-year career.

Left-handed batters hit .156 this year (14-for-90) off Lopez, 36. He was more effective in this area as the season progressed, as he limited lefties to three hits in their last 34 at-bats against him -- an .088 batting average.

Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.