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Braves sign Rodrigo Lopez to a minor league contract

Jan 31, 2011, 5:41 PM EST

rodrigo-lopez-diamondbacks Getty Images

Last week Rodrigo Lopez was said to be “negotiating” with the Rockies, but instead the veteran right-hander has signed a minor-league contract with the Braves.

Lopez’s deal includes an invitation to spring training, but it’s tough to see how the 35-year-old could make the team. Atlanta has five starters all but locked into the rotation, with Brandon Beachy around as a sixth option, and that’s without counting Kenshin Kawakami, who’s still technically on the team and capable of being a decent fourth or fifth starter.

It’s possible Lopez could claim a long relief gig, but more likely he’ll serve as an emergency option in case injuries strike and the Braves don’t want to rush any prospects to the majors before the second half.  Lopez tossed 200 innings last season, but went 7-16 with a 5.00 ERA while leading the league in homers (37) and earned runs (111) allowed.

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