Mariners pull off a trade for Jose Lopez

The Mariners have pulled a second surprise on an active Thursday, trading infielder Jose Lopez to the Colorado Rockies for Triple-A pitcher Chaz Roe.

LopezJoseSwing.jpgThough Roe isn’t Major League ready, the move gets general manager Jack Zduriencik some return on the veteran who was expected to be non-tendered at Thursday’s 9 p.m. PT deadline.

The Mariners earlier announced the re-signing of pitcher Erik Bedard to a one-year, non-guaranteed deal.

Roe, 24, was a first-round sandwich pick of the Rockies in ’05 who struggled last year in his first year at Colorado Springs (9-13, 5.98 ERA). But Roe is a prospect of interest and that’s something for the Mariners, who faced the option of going to arbitration for Lopez or let him go for nothing at the contract tender deadline.

It’s no shocker that Lopez is heading to new pastures — and the right-handed pull hitter could enjoy his new opportunity in Colorado — but a published report emerged Wednesday quoting an anonymous source saying the Mariners were going to non-tender Lopez.

Instead, the club continued working the phones and pulled off a deal that will keep the long-time Mariner off the free-agent market.

While Lopez bore the brunt of criticism last year during a difficult ’09 season when his power and batting average dropped considerably, he provided the Mariners some power and run production from a middle-infield position his first four years as a starter.

Lopez was an All-Star in ’06, hit .297 in ’08 and led the team with 96 RBIs while hitting 25 home runs with a .272 average in ’09.

But Lopez never adjusted to numerous efforts to make him a more-patient hitter and his career on-base percentage of .297 didn’t fit well with what the Mariners are trying to do.

While Ichiro is famous for not taking walks, the Mariners’ leadoff hitter usually walks 45-50 times per season. Lopez’s career-high is 27 walks in one season and even after last year’s increased emphasis, he walked just 23 times.

Now he’ll walk into a new situation in Colorado, where his free-swinging approach might suit him well.

 

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