Last night the Colorado Rockies acquired infielder Jose Lopez from the Seattle Mariners for Triple-A pitcher Chaz Roe. Rockies fans have not been too accepting of the trade, but Lopez could be a good bounceback candidate now that he will play in Coors Field. Lopez has shown power in the past, hitting 25 home runs during the 2009 season. He hit only eight in Safeco Field, which leads one to ask how many he might have hit had he not played his home games in the pitcher-friendly confines of that stadium.
Lopez will compete for the second base job during spring training, but he may have more value in a super-utility role. He's played all across the infield since his 2004 MLB debut, though Jonathan Herrera would receive playing time at shortstop when Troy Tulowitzki is out of the lineup.
One issue with Lopez is his control over his physical performance. In his previous contract with the Mariners, he had physical performance bonuses. From Cot's Baseball Contracts:
$0.125M annually in physical performance bonuses: $25,000 for passing each of 4 in-season physical tests (body-fat percentage, 60-yard sprint, 20-yard shuttle run & vertical jump), plus $25,000 for passing 4 in 1 year
If Lopez can stay in shape and experience a turnaround in 2011, Rockies general manager Dan O'Dowd will have made a shrewd move.
There's also another move Dan O'Dowd can make this offseason.
The Los Angeles Dodgers non-tendered catcher Russell Martin, making him a free agent. The Rockies are in need of a backup catcher with Miguel Olivo traded to the Toronto Blue Jays. Martin was a workhorse catcher for the Dodgers since 2006, playing 641 at the position in five seasons. Four seasons of that caught up with him in 2010 when he played in only 93 game before suffering a hip injury in early August.
He hit a career-high 19 home runs in 2007 but has seen a decline in home runs and his overall numbers in each year since then. While he would want to be a starting catcher, Martin would do well to be a backup right now. The Rockies offer a decent situation for him. The Rockies have Chris Iannetta penciled in as the starter right now, but that hasn't meant much for him in his career. Martin could always take over for Iannetta if the situation arises.
Additionally, Martin can use 2011 as a rebound year, agree to a one-year deal and then seek a better contract in 2012. The Rockies have young catchers Wilin Rosario and Jordan Pacheco ready to make the leap to the majors in the next two seasons, if not earlier.
However, for this to happen Martin would need to accept lower pay than what he would have made in arbitration with the Dodgers last year. He and the Dodgers agreed to a $5.05 million contract in 2010, which means he likely would have made something close to $6 million in 2011 had he been tendered a contract by the Dodgers.
Dan O'Dowd has already made several important deals this offseason. Now is not the time to stop.