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Originally published Thursday, December 2, 2010 at 10:00 PM

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Mariners trade Jose Lopez to Colorado, sign Erik Bedard to one-year deal

The Mariners avoided the prospect of having to non-tender Lopez and lose him for nothing when they shipped him to the Colorado Rockies for Class AAA right-handed starting pitcher Chaz Roe, 24.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Two longtime Mariners parted ways with the club Thursday, while another decided to give it one more go.

Third baseman Jose Lopez was traded to the Colorado Rockies for Class AAA right-handed starting pitcher Chaz Roe, shortly before left-handed reliever Ryan Rowland-Smith declined an offer and became a free agent. Those moves both came soon after the team announced that it had reached a one-year, non-guaranteed contract with Erik Bedard that requires him to make the squad out of spring training.

Lopez's departure had been widely anticipated, though the trade came as a surprise since he seemed destined to be headed for free agency as a non-tendered candidate right up until the deal was struck.

"It just got down to where we were at and where we were headed," Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik said Thursday night. "And we decided this was the right thing to do at this time."

Roe, 24, a former 32nd overall "sandwich round" pick in the 2005 draft, went 9-13 with a 5.98 earned-run average last season in 27 starts for AAA Colorado Springs. He appears to give the Mariners some added AAA depth.

The Mariners also came to terms on a one-year contract with infielder Josh Wilson, 29, who had been arbitration eligible for the first time. Contract offers were also made to arbitration-eligible closer David Aardsma, relief pitcher Brandon League and starter Jason Vargas by Thursday's 9 p.m. PST deadline for doing so.

Aardsma, League and Vargas now enter into the arbitration process, where they can choose to negotiate a deal with the team before hearings in February.

Bedard is recovering from his third shoulder surgery in three seasons and would have to make the team out of spring training for his contract to kick in. He made $1.5 million last season despite not throwing a pitch.

"All the reports that we've had are that he's ready to go," Zduriencik said.

Lopez, 27, floundered offensively last season after a move to third base and being bumped up to a clean-up role in the order, a spot he appeared ill-suited for. The onetime all-star from 2006, who spent six seasons in Seattle after being signed out of Venezuela, seemed destined to be non-tendered.

Lopez hit a career-best 25 home runs for the Mariners and drove in 97 runs in 2009, but his all-around numbers plummeted in 2010. His on-base-plus slugging percentage of .609 was among the worst by any major-league regular while his career .297 on-base percentage was a bone of contention for those hoping he'd drop his free-swinging ways.

Zduriencik hesitated when asked why he felt things didn't work out for Lopez in Seattle.

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"I don't have the answer," he said. "I'm very fond of him as a person and I really pulled for him because he's a very nice guy."

But Zduriencik did say that, economically, keeping Lopez around wasn't going to work. Lopez earned $2.75 million last season and would likely have earned more via arbitration.

Zdurinecik said the team has had "internal discussions" about how to replace Lopez at third base.

The Mariners could move Chone Figgins back to his natural third-base position from second. Or, they could try to swing a deal with another club — Mark Reynolds of the Diamondbacks is rumored to be on-the-block — to import someone else.

Rowland-Smith earned just $440,000 last season and did not seem in line for a huge arbitration raise.

But Zduriencik said the Australian left-hander, who went just 1-10 with a 6.75 earned run average last season, was going to have to fight with others to keep a spot coming out of spring training.

"It simply came down to, had he wanted to remain here, it would have been more or less on our terms," Zduriencik said.

Rowland-Smith declined that offer and opted to see what else is out there.

Geoff Baker: 206-464-8286 or gbaker@seattletimes.com.

Read his daily blog at www.seattletimes.com/Mariners

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