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Diamondbacks sign Felipe Lopez

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  • Diamondbacks sign Felipe Lopez

    LAS VEGAS - The Diamondbacks can't be certain which Felipe Lopez they will be getting, but given the setting, it was only fitting they opted to roll the dice on the free-agent infielder.

    On the last night of the winter meetings, the Diamondbacks agreed to terms on a one-year, $3.5 million deal with the talented but inconsistent Lopez, who will take over the second-base job for his close friend, Orlando Hudson, pending the results of a physical exam scheduled for today in Phoenix. An announcement could come soon after.

    The Diamondbacks reached an agreement with Lopez on Wednesday evening, the same night they learned left-handed reliever Arthur Rhodes would sign a free-agent deal elsewhere, getting a reported two-year, $4 million deal from Cincinnati.

    Besides Hudson, Lopez might have been the best of the free-agent second baseman on the market. At 28, he is close to, if not in, his prime. He is coming off a strong two-month finish to the 2008 season. He has made an All-Star team and his talent alone makes him intriguing.

    "Arizona's in for a treat because you're getting a great player," said Hudson, who has known Lopez since both were first-year professionals in the Toronto organization in 1998 and included Lopez in his wedding party last month. "He's the type of guy who has the talent to be an All-Star every year."

    No one questions Lopez's ability, but baseball officials familiar with him have wondered about his effort level and motivation over the years. Lopez seemed to admit to as much last season after he went from playing for a losing team in Washington to thriving for the St. Louis Cardinals in a pennant race.

    "When I was in Washington, I was spending all of my energy just concentrating on other things, other than the goal," Lopez told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in September. "Sometimes you can get caught up in all the negativity when you're on a bad team. I learned from that."

    Lopez hit just .234 in Washington before being released in late July. He caught on with St. Louis soon after and was red-hot the rest of the season, hitting .385 with a .426 on-base and a .538 slugging percentage in 156 at-bats.

    His best season was in 2005, when he hit .291 with 23 home runs for Cincinnati, but he hasn't been able to put together close to as strong of a season since.

    Lopez was not the Diamondbacks' top target, ranking behind free agents Ramon Vazquez and Mark Loretta, both of whom turned down offers from Arizona.

    After losing out on Rhodes, the team remains in search of a lefty reliever - or, perhaps, a right-hander with a history of success against left-handed hitters. The club has spoken with lefty Brian Shouse, but his agent said Thursday he does not envision a deal with Arizona. The Diamondbacks also have spoken with the agents for relievers Joe Beimel, Will Ohman and Eddie Guardado.

    They also spoke with the representative for Rich Aurilia, who could be an option off the bench.

    http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepu...blopez-CR.html

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