Orioles get pair of minor leagures for Lopez
BALTIMORE -- The Orioles traded Rodrigo Lopez to the Colorado Rockies on Friday and received two Minor League relievers in return. Lopez, due to make close to $5 million via the arbitration process, was crowded out of Baltimore's rotation. The two relievers, Jim Miller and Jason Burch, both pitched at Double-A Tulsa last season.
"I've talked to the Orioles, and I just wish them the best. The front office is doing the best for the team, trying to get the players they need," Lopez said. "Yeah, I wasn't happy when they put me back in the bullpen for the last month or so. But now in the offseason, I realize what their needs were, and I realize that it was good for me at the time.
"I was mad back then, but I have no regrets."
Lopez started on Opening Day in three of the past four seasons for Baltimore, but he led the Major Leagues with 18 losses in 2006 and was pulled from the starting staff multiple times. Lopez allowed more earned runs (124) than any other American League pitcher last year, and he was fifth in that category in 2005. For his career, he's a 60-61 pitcher.
The right-hander has won 14 games or more in three of the past five seasons, and he's only posted two losing records over that span. The two pitchers he was traded for -- Miller and Burch -- are both modest prospects. Miller went 0-3 with a 12 saves and a 3.86 ERA for Tulsa, while Burch put together a 3-4 record and a 4.95 ERA.
"Now it's great to be with a team that wants me to be there. That says a lot to me," Lopez said. "I am going to work hard, and I have a lot of motivation to win as many games as I can for the Rockies."
The Rockies signed former Orioles catcher Javy Lopez last week, and their trading for Rodrigo Lopez will reunite the pitcher with his personal catcher. The "Lopez y Lopez" battery matched up 13 times last season and tallied a 7-4 record and a 4.79 ERA.
Neither Miller nor Burch has started a game in his professional career.
In 2005, Miller had 25 saves at Class A Modesto and posted a 0.60 ERA in 15 innings at Tulsa. He was named Colorado's Organizational Pitcher of the Year that season. The right-hander has rung up 193 strikeouts with just 50 walks in 140 Minor League innings. Last season, Miller allowed almost as many home runs (10) as he did walks (14) while tallying a 3.80 ERA over 45 innings at Tulsa.
Complete coverage > Burch is another live arm, posting more strikeouts (233) than innings pitched (216 1/3) in his Minor League career.
The two prospects are unlikely to break Spring Training with the Orioles, but their presence should help improve the team's depth in the upper levels of the organization.
In other news, Baltimore announced it had reached agreement on a one-year contract with veteran Todd Williams, who has spent two-plus seasons in the Orioles' bullpen.
Williams had a 2-4 record and a 4.74 ERA in 2006. The right-hander set the Minor League saves record (222) before latching on with Baltimore in 2004.