MLB Trade Deadline: Erik Bedard A Possible Hidden Gem

WASHINGTON, DC: Starting pitcher Erik Bedard #45 of the Seattle Mariners works the first inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Contending teams are always looking for starting pitching around the trade deadline, and Seattle's Erik Bedard could make for one hell of an interesting gamble.

The MLB trade deadline is fast approaching, and because this is a year like every other year, a number of contenders are in the market for starting pitching. Ubaldo Jimenez has generated interest. Hiroki Kuroda has generated interest. Jeremy Guthrie, Aaron Harang, Jason Marquis, and a whole host of others have generated interest. Few good teams have enough starting pitching, so almost all good teams want more starting pitching, be they right on the bubble, or in a stronger position.

So might I suggest: Erik Bedard?

Yes, I know. Everybody knows. Bedard didn't start a game after July in 2008. He didn't start a game after July in 2009. He didn't start a game at all in 2010. And he hasn't started a game since June in 2011. He's on the disabled list right now. As you are reading this, Erik Bedard isn't listed on a major league active roster.

Obviously, Bedard has an established track record of fragility. You'll hear people include him in a group with guys like Rich Harden and Mark Prior. Mention the name 'Erik Bedard' to a baseball fan and there's a good chance he'll come back to you with an injury joke. It's Bedard's reputation, and he's earned it.

But it isn't as simple as "he's too injury-prone, nobody would want him." For one thing, Bedard's on the disabled list with a minor knee sprain. Nothing's wrong with his elbow. Nothing's wrong with his shoulder. Nothing's wrong with his hip. He's scheduled to come off the DL Friday night, because his knee is all better and that's been his only problem. There have been no other issues since the last time Bedard was surgically repaired.

And for another thing, before going on the DL, Erik Bedard was good. He scuffled his way through his first four starts, as he built up arm strength and got back into a routine after missing more than a full season. He made his fifth start on extra rest, and was excellent, and he was excellent from then on. Bedard's performance from his fifth start through his fifteenth:

1.77 ERA
8.6 K/9
1.9 BB/9
0.5 HR/9
.512 OPS against
71-1/3 innings

For that stretch, before hurting his knee, Bedard threw strikes, missed bats, and worked deep. Statistically, he was among the best starting pitchers in baseball, and though he wasn't quite where he was with the Orioles in 2007, he was mighty close. His stuff looked good, and so did his numbers.

Given that Bedard hurt his knee instead of his arm, and that his knee is all healed, it stands to reason he should come back without missing much of a beat. Which, in theory, means he should come back and succeed.

Suddenly, then, Bedard starts to look like a real intriguing potential addition. An addition with obvious risk, yes, but an addition with game-changing talent. In Bedard, you could have a guy who gets hurt and misses the rest of the year, but you could also have a guy who pitches like an ace for the next two or three months. Bedard was already pitching like an ace for two months before his season was sidetracked by a minor injury, so who knows?

He'd just be such a fascinating gamble. The Mariners have little reason to hang on to him. His contract expires after the year, and he won't bring back free agent compensation. Those factors, along with his health history, drive down his price. And while Bedard will make only one start off the DL before the non-waiver deadline and could be moved in August, he isn't a guy with whom a seller wants to be patient. He's out there, and he's available for a reasonable cost.

So it's on another team to roll the dice. Are there any front offices out there who're game for such a high-risk/high-reward investment? I'm not sure, but we'll find out soon.

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