MONDAY: Bedard would earn $1.15MM if he makes the MLB roster, tweets Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. He can also earn up to $1.625MM more based on the number of starts he makes (ranging from eight to thirty). Bedard can opt out of his deal on March 23rd.
FRIDAY, 7:58am: The Rays have officially confirmed the signing on Twitter.
7:40am: The Rays have agreed to a minor league contract and an invitation to big league Spring Training with left-hander Erik Bedard, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times tweeted last night that the two were likely to strike such a deal, and MLB Daily Dish's Chris Cotillo first connected the two sides on Wednesday. Bedard is a client of Relativity Baseball.
The 34-year-old Bedard spent the 2013 campaign with the Astros, posting a 4.59 ERA with 8.2 K/9, 4.5 BB/9 and a 36.4 percent ground-ball rate in 151 innings as both a starter and reliever. Bedard has always been injury prone, but until the past two seasons, he had always been effective when on the active roster. From 2006-11, Bedard posted a 3.44 ERA and whiffed 679 batters against 245 walks in 671 1/3 innings. Since that time, however, he's turned in just a 4.78 ERA in 276 2/3 innings between Pittsburgh and Houston.
Though he was emerging as one of the game's better pitchers before being struck by injuries in the mid-2000s, Bedard is probably most famous for the trade that sent him from Baltimore to Seattle. Former Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail flipped Bedard to the Mariners in a trade that netted Adam Jones, Chris Tillman, George Sherrill, Kameron Mickolio and Tony Butler. Jones and Tillman, of course, are cornerstones in Baltimore now. Sherrill was flipped to the Dodgers in a trade for top prospect Josh Bell and righty Steve Johnson (who is still with the organization), and Mickolio was one of two pitchers used to acquire Mark Reynolds from Arizona.
The Rays have already added some pitching depth in the past 24 hours, landing righty Nate Karns from the Nationals in exchange for Jose Lobaton and a pair of prospects. Signing Bedard would add to that depth — a need that is of increased importance due to the news that Jeremy Hellickson will miss the first six to eight weeks of the season following elbow surgery.
Tampa's rotation figures to be led by former Cy Young winner David Price, with Matt Moore, Alex Cobb, Chris Archer and Jake Odorizzi rounding out the starting five as Hellickson recovers. Should Odorizzi struggle or should a starter get injured in Spring Training, Bedard could work his way into the mix. It's also possible that he begins the season in the bullpen and fills a swingman role for the Rays in the earlygoing.