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Jose Lopez To Be Non-Tendered

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The deadline to offer a contract isn't until tomorrow, but a mysterious figure in a trench coat tells Mike Salk that the Mariners will non-tender Jose Lopez, making the disappointing infielder a free agent. He will join Andy LaRoche as 27 year old free agent failures.

The Mariners only had so many options. They could've tried to trade Lopez elsewhere, as the Dodgers just did the soon-to-be-dropped Ryan Theriot, but if there was anything appealing out there being offered, it would've been taken. There simply wasn't enough demand.

They could've offered Lopez arbitration and kept him around, but with Chone Figgins entrenched and Dustin Ackley on the way, Lopez would've wound up getting paid too much for a backup. He would've been looking at a 2011 salary in the $3m range, and though that price is justifiable for a player like Lopez, it's less justifiable with a team in this team's position. Luis Rodriguez could conceivably do the same job for way less.

And they could've offered Lopez arbitration and then tried to trade him, but that comes with the risk that the M's would end up stuck with a player they don't want. Again, this front office has a good feel for how the rest of the league feels about Lopez. If there was a chance he could've been dealt for a worthwhile return, that chance would've been seized. Teams just aren't that interested.

And so it appears that Lopez will be dumped. I'll hold off on the career reflection until his departure is official, but this is truly the end of an era that didn't go quite the way so many expected it to. Lopez was supposed to be good. Maybe not a star, but a reliable contributor. He wasn't supposed to get dropped at the beginning of what is for so many players the prime of their careers. He's going the way of Cristian Guzman, and while Guzman had a brief bounceback with the Nationals a few years ago, he wasn't what he was at 23. Guzman stopped developing, and Lopez appears to have done the same.

Lopez'll sign somewhere and get his millions, and in a friendlier ballpark, he may even produce a little bit. He's a born fit for the White Sox or Astros, with whom Lopez could conceivably hit as many as 25-30 home runs. The talent's still in there, and he'll be far better in 2011 than he was in 2010. With the Mariners, however, Lopez came to the plate 3,599 times, and he posted an OBP of .297. Of the 62 players in Mariners history to bat a thousand times, Lopez's OBP is tied with Joe Simpson for fifth-worst, just ahead of Rey Quinones. Despite the gains it looked like he made in 2008, and despite the gains it looked like he made in 2009, there is no way to view Jose Lopez's Mariner career as anything other than a tremendous disappointment.