Erik Bedard’s Long-Term Future

According to that lovable Baseball Prospectus stat, VORP, Erik Bedard and Mark Buehrle are in a dead heat for the second best performance by an American League pitcher to date.  Dan Haren still maintains the lead.  Haren also heads up ESPN’s Cy Young predictor, but that’s where the rankings deviate.  John Lackey, Josh Beckett, C.C. Sabathia, and J.J. Putz all rank ahead of Bedard for the Cy Young based on ESPN’s model.  VORP and awards voting are two very different things.

But Bedard has won his last eight decisions, and could move up the rankings quickly.  Bedard’s age 28 breakout season has included major improvements in all of his peripheral stats, especially his strikeout rate.  He’s not due for free agency until after the 2009 season, and earns only $3.4MM this year.  Sometime last year, the Orioles offered Bedard a four-year extension worth less than $20MM.  That would’ve bought out one year of free agency.  Of course, Bedard passed. 

The price since has gone up drastically, and will continue rising if Bedard can log several 200 inning seasons.  You have to think he’ll take his big shot at free agency when he’s at his peak value.  And he wouldn’t be in the $14MM hometown discount Mark Buehrle range.  I think he’d be up at in the $18MM Zito/Zambrano range, and that would be if he reached free agency this winter.  Imagine how things will be when two more winters pass.  We can barely picture it.  I can see Bedard getting a massive deal at  $22MM per.  The Blue Jays might be a fit.

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