SF Giants: Affeldt, Lopez Returning a Trick or Treat? 4 Implications

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SF Giants: Affeldt, Lopez Returning a Trick or Treat? 4 Implications
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Lopez was expected to attract significant interest in the open market

The San Francisco Giants haven't wasted time beginning reconstruction of their 2012 major league roster. 

Reports Sunday indicated that relief pitchers Javier Lopez and Jeremy Affeldt will return to the Giants in 2012. The club reportedly exercised its $5 million option on Affeldt and signed Lopez for two years, $8.5 million.

Superficially, the return of two dependable lefties—both key contributors to the 2010 World Series run—seems like an early treat for Giants fans; a small bite of sweetness after a disappointing 2011.

Or is it more a trick destined to frustrate fans hoping to see the club acquire a big bat?

GM Brian Sabean had hinted the club would exercise its option on Affeldt. But he'd been mum about the 34-year-old Lopez, an attractive free agent after two solid seasons in San Francisco.

Even with a salary budget expected to rise to $124 million next season, money figures to be relatively tight; Extending Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum and boosting an anemic offense require hard, cold cash. 

The first dominoes have fallen. What's next? Here are four plausible scenarios.   

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