After months of speculation and one false alarm, the Mariners acquired Erik Bedard from the Orioles in February of 2008. The cost? Tony Butler, Kameron Mickolio, George Sherrill, Chris Tillman and Adam Jones.
Then-GM Bill Bavasi told reporters that the Mariners were getting "one hell of a player," and he wasn't the only executive who thought so. Before the trade became official, a rival GM told Sports Illustrated that Bedard had become "an annual Cy Young candidate."
The numbers backed it up. Bedard was coming off two straight dominant and mostly healthy seasons. He had an astronomical K-rate (10.9K/9), walked relatively few hitters (2.8BB/9) and was extremely tough to hit in 2007.
Cy Young candidate or not, Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail said trading Bedard away was best for the franchise's long-term success.
"There aren't too many five-for-one trades anymore," MacPhail said. "We are delighted to have all five in the system."
Two of the five have yet to contribute at the major league level, but the O's still obtained a remarkable haul. Mickolio, a 6'9'' 25-year-old, has limited major league experience, though he has succeeded as a reliever in the upper minors. Butler, 22 next month, has yet to pitch above Single A.
This summer, the O's sent Sherrill to the Dodgers for powerful infield prospect Josh Bell and righty Steve Johnson. Sherrill was Baltimore's closer for a year and a half before the trade; he saved 51 games for the O's, striking out more than a batter per inning.
Tillman, who turned 21 this year, struggled in 12 major league starts this summer, but has excelled in the minors since the trade and he remains one of the game's top prospects. (A few months ago, Baseball America ranked him as the 8th-best prospect in baseball.)
Jones was coming off a productive year at Triple A at the time of the trade. He had just hit .314/.382/.586 with 25 homers in Tacoma. Those numbers translated into major league production this year, after Jones struggled at the plate in his first season with the O's. He made the All-Star team this July and hit .277/.335/.457 for the campaign, all while playing a solid center field, according to UZR.
The Mariners didn't get nearly as much value in return, though Bedard is as tough to hit as ever. Overall, Bedard allowed 135 hits and 71 walks in 164 innings as a Mariner, striking out 162 for a 3.24 ERA.
That wouldn't be a bad season, but the Mariners hoped for two years out of Bedard, not one. Back, hip, shoulder and hamstring injuries limited him to 30 starts. The M's expected to contend when they added Bedard and Carlos Silva to a rotation that already included Felix Hernandez and Jarrod Washburn, but the 2008 team lost 101 games and, despite a turnaround last season, they didn't come close to making the playoffs.