Mariners deal Lopez for Minor League pitcher

Mariners deal Lopez for Minor League pitcher

SEATTLE -- The Mariners traded infielder Jose Lopez to the Colorado Rockies on Thursday evening for Minor League pitcher Chaz Roe as Seattle general manager Jack Zduriencik got some return on the veteran rather than just release him at the non-tender deadline.

The Mariners, who earlier announced the re-signing of left-handed pitcher Erik Bedard to a non-guaranteed 2011 contract, also added the 24-year-old Roe to their pitching depth. Roe was a first-round Draft pick in '05, a sandwich selection (32nd overall) who pitched in Triple-A last year for Colorado Springs.

The 6-foot-5 right-hander was 9-13 with a 5.98 ERA in his first Triple-A season after going 7-3 with a 3.15 ERA in '09 for Double-A Tulsa.

"He's a former first-round pick we'd scouted this year," Zduriencik said. "He threw against us in Tacoma. He's 24 years old, has a nice arm, a sinkerballer. Pitching in Colorado Springs was a little difficult for him, but maybe a change of scenery and the opportunity to start his career over in a new place might help all concerned."

Getting to Know Chaz Roe
While the key to the Mariners trading Jose Lopez to the Rockies was to make room for top prospect Dustin Ackley at second base, they also got a Minor League arm back from Colorado in the deal. Here's some more information on right-hander Chaz Roe:
Taken in the supplemental first round (No. 32 overall) in the 2005 First-Year Player Draft out of high school, Roe had slowly, but steadily made his way up the Rockies' ladder. The 6-foot-5, 190-pound righty has a career 42-38 record with a 4.48 ERA over 719 2/3 innings, all as a starter. More of a pitch-to-contact kind of pitcher (nine hits per nine innings), he has struck out 6.8 per nine, while walking 3.6. This past season, he struggled in the rarified air of Colorado Springs, finishing with a 5.98 ERA and a .325 batting average against. Statistically, Roe's best season probably was in 2009, when he went 7-3 with a 3.15 ERA over 20 starts in his second taste of the Double-A Texas League.

The 24-year-old Roe features a sinking fastball that he throws 89-91 mph. When he's on, he's able to locate it well, but that's been an issue at times. His best pitch has always been his curve, and it continues to be a plus pitch. He throws a changeup, which lags behind the other pitches, but he still projects to be a Major League-average pitcher. Roe gets good marks for his work ethic and makeup as well. Very slender, there's always been concern about his durability and he does need to continue gaining strength. That being said, he's twice topped the 150-innings mark, both this past year (158 innings) and in 2007 (170 1/3 innings).

-- Jonathan Mayo

The same might hold true for Lopez as well. He was a 2006 All-Star for the Mariners and led the team with 96 RBIs while hitting 25 home runs in '09, but struggled mightily at the plate last season after being moved into the middle of the order as well as switching to third base.

With a career mark of .280 on the road compared to .251 at Safeco Field, Lopez should enjoy a chance to play for Colorado as the Rockies are looking for a right-handed bat and will give him a shot at second base, where he started for the Mariners for four years before moving last season.

Zduriencik said there was a point when Lopez was "a very nice player" for the Mariners, but a decision had to be made and it was time for the club to move a new direction.

"I'm very fond of Jose as a person and really pulled for him," Zduriencik said. "There were spurts when he was a very nice player. He had a really difficult year last year. ... There were some things I'd have liked to see different from him, but I respect what he did for us. He played hard, he played every day, he switched positions for us. You just get to the point where you have to make a call and that was the case here."

As for where Lopez's departure leaves the Mariners' third-base situation, Zduriencik said that will play out over the next few months as the roster is finalized. He said no discussions have been had with current players as to their roles for next year.

The logical expectation would be for Chone Figgins to move to third base, where he played for the Angels prior to signing with Seattle last year. That would open up second base for rookie Dustin Ackley, but the Mariners might not want to push him onto the Major League roster that quickly.

Zduriencik didn't rule out the the possibility of Ackley starting the year with the Mariners, however, saying the door is open for all the franchise's young players to make their cases in Peoria.

"We're wide open to whatever happens in Spring Training," he said.

Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohns1 as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.