Erik Bedard Rumors
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.
AL East updates:
- Orioles GM Dan Duquette expects to make a deal or two tomorrow, according to Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com. The moves would likely be trades to obtain pitching, Ghiroli adds (Twitter links).
- The Red Sox have no plans to try to trade Carl Crawford, writes WEEI's Alex Speier.
- GM Ben Cherington and the Red Sox seem content to wait out the pitching market for bargains, says Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe.
- The Red Sox didn't have "substantive conversations" with Erik Bedard before the lefty signed with the Pirates, tweets Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald.
- Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos says there's a "very select group" of players the team will consider in the Rule 5 draft tomorrow, according to Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com. The Jays will only clear a spot on their 40-man roster if they think they have a shot to acquire one of those players (all Twitter links).
- Anthopoulos also said yesterday that he thinks the Blue Jays' ability to boost payroll has been "grossly exaggerated," writes Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca. Team president Paul Beeston said the Jays could increase payroll to around $120MM eventually, but that they'd need to start drawing more fans first.
- The Rays are still talking to free agents, but nothing is imminent, tweets Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times. There may be mutual interest between Johnny Damon and the Rays for a reunion, tweets Newsday's Ken Davidoff.
The Pirates have agreed to sign lefty Erik Bedard, MLBTR has confirmed. Canadian journalist Marc Brassard first tweeted news of an impending $4.5MM deal, and the Pirates have since announced the deal. Bedard is represented by SFX.
Bedard, 32, is coming off his healthiest season since 2007. This year for the Mariners and Red Sox he posted a 3.62 ERA, 8.7 K/9, 3.3 BB/9, 0.97 HR/9, and 42% groundball rate in 129 1/3 innings. He missed time with knee and lat sprains, which wasn't too bad after shoulder surgeries limited him to 164 innings for 2008-09. The signing has upside for the Pirates, who needed some depth after losing Paul Maholm to free agency. Additionally, Charlie Morton had hip surgery in October and could miss the start of the season.
Tuesday night updates out of the NL Central, as MLBTR's 24-hour coverage of the Winter Meetings continues....
- Rival executives view Rockies assistant GM Bill Geivett as the favorite for the Astros' GM job, tweets Danny Knobler of CBS Sports.
- Stephen Goff of the Houston Examiner hears (Twitter link) that the Astros may select a reliever with the first pick of Thursday's Rule 5 draft.
- Reds GM Walt Jocketty talked about the team's search for pitching, and MLB.com's Mark Sheldon has the quotes. Jocketty also said Edgar Renteria's reps had contacted him, but the Reds probably aren't interested in signing him.
- All signs are pointing to the Brewers bringing back Takashi Saito on a one-year deal, tweets Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
- Erik Bedard is drawing interest from the Pirates, tweets Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe.
Here are some interesting tidbits courtesy of Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com:
- The Red Sox wanted to acquire then Mariners starter Erik Bedard so badly that they tried to trade for the lefty while he was still on the disabled list in July. Fortuitously, Bedard threw a simulated game at Fenway Park when the M's were in Boston on July 23, shortly before his return from the DL. So, the Red Sox had a good chance to scout him before making an offer to Seattle and consummating the eventual trade.
- Offseason negotiations between impending free agent David Ortiz and Boston "will not necessarily go smoothly," opines Rosenthal. The Red Sox will want to limit the years on a new deal for Papi, while the DH will seek a multiyear pact and a raise on his $12.5MM annaul salary.
- Rangers lefty Mike Gonzalez, acquired last week from the Orioles, could be a huge pickup for Texas, which lacks a lefty killer in its bullpen.
- Texas was serious about acquiring Lance Berkman from the Cardinals, but the Big Puma didn't want to be a rental player for the second consecutive year, according to Rosenthal, and St. Louis wanted to retain the veteran slugger in hopes of re-signing him this offseason.
A couple notes regarding the Red Sox and Indians, who both won on Saturday night (in Boston's case, twice) ...
- The Red Sox wanted to trade for both Erik Bedard and Rich Harden once their attempt to acquire Hiroki Kuroda from the Dodgers fell through, tweets Peter Gammons. Bedard, of course, ended up in Boston, while the acquisition of Harden was nixed by Red Sox medical staff.
- It's unclear whether the Indians were the team that placed a waiver claim on the Rays' B.J. Upton, writes Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer, but it'd make sense for the Tribe to do so. Outfielders Michael Brantley and Shin-Soo Choo are banged up, and the Indians were one of the teams interested in Upton prior to the non-waiver trade deadline, according to Hoynes.
- Lost in the shuffle of Jim Thome's first homer since rejoining the Indians was the Major League debut of reliever Nick Hagadone, writes Hoynes. Hagadone, a lefty, was acquired along with Justin Masterson in the deal that sent Victor Martinez to Boston in 2009. That doesn't look like such a bad swap in retrospect, especially if Hagadone turns out to be a solid member of the Tribe's bullpen.
Links for Thursday, before the Pirates try to reach the .500 mark and the Indians try to climb above it...
- One GM told Tim Kurkjian of ESPN The Magazine that the Indians gave up an awful lot to get Ubaldo Jimenez, "a guy you're just not sure about." However, reliever Frank Herrmann told Kurkjian that he believes in Cleveland's GM. "We're not going to meddle in the way the front office works," Hermann said. "I would be upset if Chris Antonetti came down to the clubhouse and told me how to hold my curveball."
- Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reports that the Red Sox never stopped pursuing Erik Bedard throughout their negotiations for Jimenez, Hiroki Kuroda and Rich Harden.
- Texas outfielder Josh Hamilton told Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com that the Rangers want to prove that last year's World Series run was just the beginning. "We want to show we belong there, that it wasn't a fluke," Hamilton said.
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports says the Padres should have traded Heath Bell by now or signed him to an extension. Their best remaining option is to trade him this August, even though they have significantly less leverage than they did a month ago, Rosenthal says.
- Richard Justice of the Houston Chronicle can envision the Astros winning as many as 90 games in 2013 - but he can also envision three consecutive 100-loss seasons.
- The Braves and Phillies will likely reinforce their bullpens internally, as Rosenthal explains. The Braves would like to add a right-hander and Peter Moylan, who is returning from back surgery, and minor leaguers Arodys Vizcaino and Julio Teheran are options. The Phillies, meanwhile, are looking forward to the return of Jose Contreras.