How the Mariners can replace Jose Lopez

Now that the Jose Lopez era in Seattle is officially over with after his Thursday evening trade to the Colorado Rockies for minor-leaguer Chaz Roe, the Mariners will have to start looking at his potential 3B replacement.

The most logical scenario would be to move last year’s free agent acquisition, Chone Figgins, back to his more natural position of 3B. Plus, with star prospect Dustin Ackley ready to step in to 2B it makes that move a necessity if Figgins is to see regular playing time.

However, Jack Zduriencik and manager Eric Wedge may feel the more prudent action may be to leave Ackley in Triple A into mid-May for a couple reasons: 1) give Ackley some more reps at 2B before coming up to the bigs but most importantly, 2) to delay his service time clock another season, giving the Mariners another full season of control of Ackley.

During those 30 or some odd games that Ackley would then be off the 25-man roster, the Mariners could use Josh Wilson at second base (with Figgins holding down third permanently). Or, the team could decide to leave Figgins at 2B for the time being and give youngster Matt Mangini, who looks to be a pretty safe bet to make the 25-man roster out of Spring Training at this point in time, the playing time at 3B until Ackley comes up.

Those are the main internal replacement options that the Mariners and GM Zduriencik will be looking at. An outside shot would be using utility infielder Matt Tuiasosopo who will certainly have the opportunity to show that he deserves the job in Spring. But, considering what we’ve seen from Tui in the last three years, I would be highly surprised if he were to make the roster out of Spring.

There are also some external options of course. However, guys like Juan Uribe and Miguel Tejada who probably would’ve made the most sense as free agent signings, are already off the market and most other options don’t appear too appetizing. Not to mention costly for a franchise that appears to be focusing on a youth movement.

And with Jack Z as the GM you can never rule out the trade route. However, it would be pointless to try and imagine all the different players that may or may not be available. Let alone what Zduriencik may or may not be interested in.

For now — and likely come April — the best bet is on Figgins moving permanently to 3B (with Mangini backing up) and either Wilson or Luis Rodriguez (a minor league signee) holding down 2B for 30 or so games until Ackley takes over in mid-May.

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