A few years ago, it seemed possible that Erik Bedard could score a massive $20MM per year free agent contract upon reaching free agency after the 2009 season. One huge trade and two disappointing seasons later, he's likely to sign a one-year deal.
Bedard, who turns 31 in March, was at peak value after whiffing 221 in 182 innings for the '07 Orioles. In one of the most lopsided trades of the decade, the Orioles sent the lefty to Seattle for Adam Jones, George Sherrill, Chris Tillman, Kam Mickolio, and Tony Butler. Sherrill has since been spun into prospects Josh Bell and Steven Johnson by the O's.
Bedard was named the Mariners' 2008 Opening Day starter in February, and he avoided arbitration by signing for $7MM shortly thereafter. He was plagued by hip inflammation, back spasms, and shoulder tightness, which culminated in September shoulder surgery. Having tossed only 81 innings, Bedard was content with a $750K raise plus incentives for his 2009 contract. Bedard's '09 injuries were minor until June, when shoulder problems resurfaced. Exploratory surgery performed in August found a torn labrum and inflamed bursa. His recovery has him throwing in four to six months, meaning he might not be ready for Opening Day 2010.
The Red Sox are a natural fit for Bedard, as GM Theo Epstein was not scared off by the failed buy-low attempts on Brad Penny and John Smoltz last winter. Smoltz's $5.5MM guarantee may represent the upper bound for a pitcher coming off surgery. Smoltz's labrum surgery was in June of '08, and the Sox were initially targeting June of '09 for his debut. Bedard's team will have to be more aggressive, otherwise he would be debuting in August.
Other clubs looking to add to their rotation include the Brewers, Nationals, Mets, and Diamondbacks. The Cardinals, Orioles, Indians, Twins, A's, Royals, and Rangers could be other possibilities. Even a return to the Mariners can't be ruled out. Where do you see Bedard signing, and for what kind of contract?