So why was Rodrigo Lopez signed?

Is someone hurt? Are they worried about their other fifth starter candidates? Why sign Rodrigo Lopez?

Last week the Braves signed free agent starting pitcher Rodrigo Lopez to a minor league contract.

And for the life of me, I can't figure out why.

They already have Mike Minor and Brandon Beachy, two very good prospects, ready to battle it out for the fifth starter's job in spring training. Is Lopez insurance in case BOTH of those kids struggle in March?

Perhaps he's simply a piece for Triple-A Gwinnett? When Erik Cordier went down with an injury, it did dent the projected Gwinnett rotation. Maybe they simply want Lopez for Triple-A, and then in case something goes wrong with the fifth starter he can be another option if he's doing well in Gwinnett.

Or are they thinking they may need a long reliever and that Lopez can compete with Scott Proctor and Cristian Martinez for that job on the pitching staff?


The weird thing is, though, they need a backup shortstop more than they need another backup pitching option. Right now, Brandon Hicks, Diory Hernandez, and minor league free agent Ed Lucas will battle it out for that backup infielder spot. No one else has shortstop experience, and they need someone to backup Alex Gonzalez.

So if they were going to sign another player before spring training, you would have thought it would be another infielder instead of another starting pitcher.

The Braves rotation is already packed, with Tim Hudson, Derek Lowe, Tommy Hanson, Jair Jurrjens, and then the two battling it out for that last spot. Then you have Julio Teheran, who some believe may be ready for the rotation in mid-summer or late in the season.

And then don't forget Kenshin Kawakami. He's still around - on the Triple-A roster right now. What if he's not traded and the Braves get stuck with him? He's got to be in the conversation too if they cannot move him.

So where will Lopez fit in? We'll see soon.

Bill Shanks hosts The Bill Shanks Show on WPLA Fox Sports 1670 in Macon, GA and The Atlanta Baseball Talk Show. Shanks writes columns for The Macon Telegraph. Email Bill at and follow him on Twitter at

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