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Erik Bedard Rumors
Astros starting pitcher Bud Norris and reliever Jose Veras are drawing considerable interest and it's likely that both players will be traded, sources tell Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. The Astros have said that they don't need to move Norris as his $3MM salary is affordable, but that also increases his value on the market.
The Orioles are one of the clubs that realize the value of Norris and other Astros hurlers. Even though they've already been aggressive on the trade market by acquiring Scott Feldman from the Cubs and Francisco Rodriguez from the Brewers, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports hears that they're likely not done and are speaking with Houston about acquiring more arms. Baltimore likely would balk at the trade price for Norris – one report earlier this month said they're seeking two top prospects – but they could zero in on former O's lefty Erik Bedard or right-hander Lucas Harrell, sources told Rosenthal.
Meanwhile, one might guess that the Tigers would be among the leading suitors for Veras, but Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com (via Twitter) hears that the Detroit front office is split on him. Knobler's best guess is that the Tigers don't make a play for the reliever, but there are some within the organization that are fans.
Heyman notes that the Red Sox, Pirates, Phillies, Rangers, Giants, and Dodgers have also shown interest in Norris at some point, which should make for some competitive bidding. Meanwhile, just about every contending team is considering relief help and the Pirates could be in that group after Jason Grilli was put on the shelf with a forearm issue.
Veras has a 3.12 ERA on the season with 9.6 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 on the season. Norris is also enjoying a solid campaign, posting a 3.91 ERA with 6.2 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 through 20 starts.
Each year teams parlay minor league signings into big rewards at the Major League level. In recent years, players like Ryan Vogelsong, Jared Burton and some guy named R.A. Dickey have been brought in on minor league deals and wound up signing extensions with their teams due to strong performance. Here's a look at some of the non-roster invitees from this offseason who have recently secured jobs with their teams:
- Scott Kazmir has won the job as the Indians' fifth starter, Nick Camino of WTAM 1100 tweets. Kazmir's velocity has reported returned and he posted a strong Spring Training (13-to-1 K/BB ratio and a 3.46 ERA in 13 innings).
- Ryan Raburn has won a spot on the Indians, according to Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer (Twitter link). Raburn has hit .359/.479/.795 with four homers in 48 plate appearances this Spring.
- Erik Bedard is expected to make the Astros' rotation, GM Jeff Luhnow told Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link). The Canadian has turned in six scoreless innings in official starts, with nine strikeouts and two walks.
- Outfielder Wilkin Ramirez seems to have forced his way onto the Twins' 25-man roster, per MLB.com's Rhett Bollinger (on Twitter). Ramirez, who played in the minors for the Twins last season, hit .425/.465/.600 in 43 trips to the plate.
- On Monday, it was announced that Rick Ankiel, Kameron Loe, Jason Giambi and LaTroy Hawkins (all Article XX(B) free agents) made their respective rosters. Today, we learned that Jonathan Sanchez and Brandon Inge have roster spots with the Pirates.
The Astros have announced the signing of left-hander Erik Bedard to a Minor League contract with an invitation to Spring Training via press release. The 33-year-old is represented by SFX.
Bedard was the Opening Day starter for the Pirates last season after signing a one-year deal worth $4.5MM. Unfortunately for Pittsburgh, Bedard's season wasn't nearly as strong as the 2011 campaign he split between the Mariners and Red Sox. He managed just a 5.01 ERA in 125 2/3 innings before being released in August. He displayed his typical high strikeout rate (8.5 K/9) but was also plagued by sub-par command (4.0 BB/9).
Bedard has a 3.85 ERA, 8.7 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9 in 1,077 career innings between the Orioles, Mariners, Red Sox and Pirates. Following his best season in 2007, he was traded from Baltimore to Seattle for a package highlighted by Adam Jones and Chris Tillman. Since that time, he's managed just 419 innings, although his 3.89 ERA, 8.7 K/9 and 3.8 BB/9 in that span are all very close to his career numbers.
Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow told reporters, including MLB.com's Brian McTaggart, that there's a "strong chance" Bedard will crack Houston's rotation (Twitter link). In addition to Bedard, Luhnow has added several rotation options to his team this offseason. As MLBTR's Transaction Tracker shows, the Astros have claimed Philip Humber on waivers and acquired both John Ely and Alex White via trade.
Kyle Lohse placed tenth on MLBTR's list of the offseason's top free agents, a reflection of the fact that Tim Dierkes expects the right-hander to help his next team. But unless something has changed in the last three days, Lohse hasn't received a single contract offer this winter. He’s tied to draft pick compensation after turning down a qualifying offer, and that has no doubt limited his leverage. Jeff Sullivan of FanGraphs argues that the hate has gone too far, showing convincingly that Lohse adds value at the plate, on the field and, of course, as a pitcher. Here are more links from around MLB…
- The Mariners would like to add a lefty to the rotation to replace Jason Vargas, but don't expect it to be Joe Saunders or Erik Bedard, writes MLB.com's Greg Johns in a Mariners Inbox piece. If a lefty joins the rotation, it's more likely to be one of Seattle's top prospects like James Paxton or Danny Hultzen.
- It’s still early to be assessing the way the new collective bargaining agreement shapes the market for free agents such as Lohse, Ken Davidoff of the New York Post writes. While the market for certain players linked to draft pick compensation does seem slow, Davidoff points out that every one of these players declined a $13.3MM qualifying offer.
- Bob Klapisch of the Bergen Record hears that agent Scott Boras asked the Yankees last month if they'd consider re-signing free agent closer Rafael Soriano to a one-year contract (Twitter link). The Yankees flatly denied the request, Klapisch writes. ESPN.com's Buster Olney says the Yankees prefer the value of the draft pick and accompanying spending limit increase to the on-field value of Soriano (Twitter link).
- Former MLB player Jody Gerut is working to reduce athlete bankruptcy in his new role as an agent with Wasserman Media Group, Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com reports. Gerut's focusing on educating athletes, particularly Latin Americans, about how to manage their finances.
The Red Sox will interview Rick Peterson for their pitching coach job, reports Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe (via Twitter). The Orioles granted Boston permission to interview Peterson, who is currently Baltimore's director of pitching development and is a former pitching coach with the A's, Mets and Brewers.
Here's the latest from around the AL East…
- No teams have yet contacted the Yankees about a possible Alex Rodriguez trade, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.
- The Orioles have scouted Japanese right-hander Shohei Otani, reports Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun, confirming an earlier report from Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News that the O's had interest in the 18-year-old prospect. Since Otani has already been drafted (though not signed) by the NPL's Nippon Ham Fighters, Connolly suspects the O's might not make any quick attempts to sign Otani given the Orioles' issues last season in trying to sign Korean southpaw Seong-Min Kim.
- Zack Greinke and Josh Hamilton are both too expensive for the Orioles' taste, writes MASNsports.com's Roch Kubatko in an analysis of free agents who won't be pursued by the O's this winter. The team doesn't have interest in free agent pitchers Derek Lowe, Jeremy Guthrie, Edwin Jackson or Erik Bedard, while Kevin Youkilis is a longshot based on Baltimore's concerns about his health.
- James Loney has a less than 50-50 chance of returning to the Red Sox, reports MLB.com's Evan Drellich, though the Sox see Loney as a "Plan B" if they're still looking for first base help later in the offseason.
- The Rays have been denied permission by St. Petersburg mayor Bill Foster to explore new stadium sites in nearby counties in Tampa Bay, reports Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune. The Rays' lease at Tropicana Field runs through the 2027 season.
- Mariano Rivera's retirement could help the Yankees avoid a tough decision with the closer's job, opines Wallace Matthews of ESPN New York. If Rivera retired, the Yankees could then pursue a new contract with Rafael Soriano without worrying about committing too much payroll space on closers.
- From earlier today, Joel Sherman of the New York Post had more items about the Yankees.
The newly-acquired Joe Saunders makes his Orioles debut tonight against the White Sox as the O's look for their fifth straight victory. A Baltimore win would put the Orioles just 2.5 games behind the Yankees for first place in the AL East. Here are some notes from Charm City…
- Dylan Bundy won't be called up for the Orioles' pennant drive, manager Buck Showalter told reporters (including MLB.com's Brittany Ghiroli). The right-hander will instead pitch in the instructional league once the Double-A season concludes. While Showalter "couldn’t ask for a better progression” of Bundy's minor league development, he and the team feel that the 19-year-old Bundy isn't yet ready for Major League hitters.
- The Orioles don't appear to be interested in left-hander Erik Bedard, tweets Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com. The Pirates released Bedard yesterday after the southpaw posted a 5.01 ERA, 8.5 K/9 rate and a 2.11 K/BB ratio in 24 starts in Pittsburgh. Bedard spent five seasons with the O's before being traded to the Mariners in 2008 in the deal that brought Adam Jones and Chris Tillman (among others) to Baltimore.
- Showalter also told reporters (including Rich Dubroff of CSN Baltimore) that the team is looking at Randy Wolf as a starting pitcher, though he isn't ruling out using Wolf out of the bullpen. The Orioles will sign Wolf and activate him before Friday but the deal hasn't yet been officially finalized.
- GM Dan Duquette hasn't been afraid to make moves this year, as FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal notes how the Orioles' willingness to shuffle their roster has helped the team to their surprising record.
The Pirates released lefty Erik Bedard, reported Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review on Sulia. Michael Sanserino of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette later confirmed the story. The Pirates confirmed that they have released Bedard and announced that they'll make a related move this afternoon.
Bedard, 33, posted a 5.01 ERA, 8.5 K/9, 4.0 BB/9, 1.00 HR/9, and 43.3% groundball rate in 125 2/3 innings this year. The Bucs signed Bedard in December to a one-year, $4.5MM free agent deal, so they still owe him about $910K. Assuming Bedard hooks on somewhere, he's on track to reach 130 innings for the first time since 2007. He's had some nice runs this year, but an 8.79 ERA over his past three outings may have been the nail in the coffin for the Pirates as they battle for a wild card spot.
Few could have foreseen Erik Bedard's relatively disappointing career arc after his brilliant breakout campaign as an Oriole in 2007. The left-hander was worth 5.4 WAR that year, striking out more than a batter per inning, and he finally seemed to have harnessed his nasty raw stuff in a way that would translate to a stretch of dominance.
But the cruel reality of injuries intervened in literally every season since then, reducing Bedard to that frustrating type of player who is effective during his fleeting stretches of relative health. Now with the Pirates after quietly signing a one-year contract with them as a free agent this offseason, Bedard is looking like a strong in-season trade candidate — with that all too familiar caveat: if he can stay healthy.
Such a trade would not be new territory for Bedard. Last season, the Red Sox acquired the southpaw from the Mariners in an interesting three-way swap that netted Seattle a decent prospect in outfielder Trayvon Robinson. Even within the context of that trade, Bedard showed his best and worse: He turned in several strong second-half outings for the Red Sox, but he also missed roughly three starts due to various injuries during the team's brutal September collapse. So, the upside is there, but so is the risk.
Bedard has gotten off to a decent start this season (he struck out nine in five innings during his start today), and more importantly, he's been healthy. If he can continue to take the hill every fifth day over the next month, Bucs GM Neal Huntington would be wise to start phoning starting-needy contenders, especially considering that Bedard's modest $4.5MM salary shouldn't be a deterrent for most suitors. The Yankees, for one, might fit that bill, depending upon how they handle their beleaguered rotation in the coming weeks.
Even if Bedard were to yield a medium or low probability prospect with a high upside — a la Robinson — it might be worth it for the rebuilding Pirates to pull the trigger during another season that surely won't end in a postseason berth.
Here are today’s NL Central notes, including thoughts from three of the division’s GMs on a few starting pitchers…
- Pirates GM Neal Huntington said he’s cautiously optimistic about Erik Bedard this season, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports. "Not that long ago, Erik was one of the better pitchers in baseball," Huntington said. "We still see good stuff. The challenge is going to be health.”
- Cubs GM Jed Hoyer joined Casey Stern and Jim Bowden on MLB Network Radio and said he's hopeful to sign Matt Garza long-term because pitching is such a difficult commodity to obtain.
- Brewers GM Doug Melvin told Bowden that he and owner Mark Attanasio plan to discuss an extension with Zack Greinke this spring (Twitter link). In this case, Melvin and Attanasio will be speaking to Greinke without relying on an intermediary. The right-hander is without an agent, unlike the overwhelming majority of players. Melvin recently cited deals in the $80MM range as possibly comparables for Greinke.
- The Reds are a sleeper team for 2012, one scout told ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick (Twitter link).
Wrapping up a few NL Central loose ends from the Winter Meetings:
- GM John Mozeliak said Thursday that the Cardinals will "redeploy the resources" that had been allotted for Albert Pujols, writes MLB.com's Matthew Leach.
- Jon Heyman of the MLB Network tweets that the Cardinals figure to non-tender Ryan Theriot, and names the Mets, Braves, Astros, Reds, Blue Jays, and Royals as teams who may have interest in the infielder.
- New Astros GM Jeff Luhnow was introduced today and said he's "very optimistic" about taking the club in the right direction, as MLB.com's Brian McTaggart writes.
- The Pirates' deal with Erik Bedard includes $500K in potential innings bonuses, tweets ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick.
- In the Triple-A portion of today's Rule 5 draft, the Pirates selected Aaron Poreda, tweets John Manuel of Baseball America. The former first-rounder was part of the trade that sent Jake Peavy from the Padres to the White Sox in 2009.