Mike Salk has reported on 710 ESPN radio and his blog that the Seattle Mariners will non-tender a contract to third baseman Jose Lopez.
Salk cites an unnamed source, and the Mariners response by a team spokesman was that no decision had been made. Still, given the expectations of the last month, letting Lopez go to free agency would not be a surprise.
We said here on Monday - and several times weeks earlier - that the Mariners were hoping to trade Lopez after declining a $4.5 million 2011 option. With gneral manager Jack Zduriencik unable to find a trading partner, keeping Lopez made little sense.
Lopez, 27, as played every infield position for Seattle in his five-year-plus career, posting a .266 average with 80 home runs and 431 RBI. Last season, he was moved to third base and - because the team lacked true middle of the lineup hitters - placed third or fourth in the batting order.
That was a disaster, and Lopez pressed. He wound up batting .239 with 10 home runs and 58 RBI, with a .270 on-base percentage. Though Lopez might well succeed lower in a lineup, the Mariners haven't added bats this winter, and the thought of him forced to bat cleanup again may figure into Seattle's decision.
The team has until 9 p.m. tomorrow night to make its decision, and Zduriencik could well talk to teams until that deadline, hoping to get something in return for Lopez.