After a deal between the Astros and Phillies fell apart over a physical that would have sent Wilton Lopez to the City of Brotherly Love, the Astros have instead dealt Lopez to the Colorado Rockies, who apparently had no issues with Lopez's elbow. Heading back to Houston in the trade are a pair of starting pitchers, Alex White and Alex Gillingham, while the Rockies also get a player to be named later in the deal.
Lopez's acquisition strengthens a Rockies bullpen that was already pretty good last season, despite an ugly 4.52 ERA. The 29-year old Lopez had a 2.17 ERA with the Astros in 2012, striking out 54 and walking just eight in 66 1/3 innings. Perhaps the more interesting stat of note to the Rockies is Lopez's 55% groundball rate in 2012, a huge advantage in the hitters paradise that is Coors Field. Lopez will join a Rockies bullpen that returns a trio of pitchers worth at least a win in 2012: Matt Belisle, closer Rafael Betancourt, and the fireballing Rex Brothers. However, even with a bullpen that good, Colorado is still very weak in the rotation, meaning that their lesser relievers are going to eat more innings and destroy the overall success of the bullpen.
The 24-year old White never got off the ground in Colorado after being acquired last summer as part of the Ubaldo Jimenez trade. In 134 1/3 career innings as a Rockie, White allowed 25 homers, struck out 88, and walked 67. You really can't get much worse than that, and while Minute Maid Park isn't exactly a great pitchers park, he likely wont' be *as* terrible there as he was at Coors Field. It's too early to punt on his career, and maybe a second change of scenery will do him well. Gillingham was an 11th round pick by the Rockies in 2011, and had a 3.66 ERA in 19 starts in A-level Asheville, striking out 83 and walking 28. He's the type of guy the Astros have continued to load up on as they rebuild their farm system: a low ceiling organizational arm that will add depth.
The deal initially proposed by the Phillies (Tyler Cloyd and Sebastian Valle, according to most reports) gave the Astros a lot more value, but their trepidation towards completing the trade after seeing Lopez's medicals likely pushed Houston's asking price down, allowing the Rockies to step in to pick up another solid, cost-controlled bullpen arm for a low return. This trade won't push Colorado over the top, but they continued to strengthen the best part of their team while mainly giving up a player that didn't seem like he'd ever be able to put it all together with the organization. That's a pretty solid move in my book.
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