A partial tear in Jake Peavy’s ankle ligament may cause experts to shred their perception of the starting pitcher trade market as the baseball season nears the trade deadline, and it’s possible that the Mariners could become the beneficiary.
Peavy’s injury, initially expected to keep the righty out for a month, could keep him out for 8-12 weeks according to recent reports.
The injury to Peavy bumped Erik Bedard and Jarrod Washburn up a spot each on the list of prospective trade commodities, but it may have moved Bedard into the top spot among starting pitchers.
This July was expected to be one of the most fruitful trade markets in the history of baseball in terms of top-of-the-rotation pitchers.
Erik Bedard was near the top of a list that could include guys like Cliff Lee, Brad Penny, Roy Halladay, Zack Greinke, Roy Oswalt, and Brandon Webb.
But each of the other players has significant caveats that could get in the way of them being traded in a traditional deadline deal.
Halladay and Penny both play for present contenders. Halladay has become the face of the Blue Jays franchise, so even if the Blue Jays drop out of the AL East race, J.P. Ricciardi’s hesitance to talk trade with the former Cy Young Award winner may prove genuine.
Penny plays for the Red Sox, who will likely look to move the righty for a shortstop or designated hitter at the major league level, rather than a bunch of prospects.
Lee won last year’s Cy Young award, and plays on a team that should be better than they are. While his 3.17 ERA remains impressive, batters are hitting .048 points higher against him and slugging .054 higher this season.
His value may not be at its peak, and many teams may use the 2008 season may be viewed as an aberration, not a trend.
Webb has been sidelined by a shoulder injury most of this season, and has a relatively inexpensive club option next season ($8.5 million). Those two factors could make him more valuable for the Diamondbacks to hang onto than to trade.
Greinke plays on a team that has spent the better part of two decades—erm – controlling payroll. However, the team has shown willingness to spend money in the past few years, inking Gil Meche and Jose Guillen to large contracts.
Greinke’s only 25 years old, and signed to a four-year, $38 million extension, meaning he won’t break the Royals bank in the next few years.
Perhaps the most comparable, least obstructed pitcher that could be available is Oswalt. He is 31, and has been generally consistent throughout his career.
But Oswalt is a favorite of Astros owner Drayton McLane, which could make his perceived value higher than his market value, and is owed $45 million over the next three years. His 2009 salary, $14 million, is nearly double that of Bedard.
So it is entirely possible that Bedard will be the most sought-after trade piece to solidify a team’s starting rotation. If he does slide into the top spot, it’s possible that an offer akin to the four-player offer from the White Sox to the Padres could come the Mariners way.
The Padres agreed to the deal, but Peavy vetoed it under his no-trade clause.
Bedard’s only real caveat is team success. If the Mariners are in contention, he simply might not be available. Perhaps another caveat, though not unique on the aforementioned list of starters, is his potential Type A free agent status.
That will mean that his perceived value is that of at least equal compensation as a first round pick and a pick in the Compensatory A round.
The Mariners rotation is actually crowded right now, a nice problem to have. With Ryan Rowland-Smith still on the disabled list, Brandon Morrow likely headed to Triple A to stretch his arm out, and Carlos Silva still on the disabled list, the team could legitimately have eight starters for five spots heading into the trade deadline.
Bedard is a good pitcher, but he’s not irreplaceably talented.
Even if the Mariners are successful, and contending for an AL West title, they may be forced to entertain an offer like the one the White Sox and Padres agreed to.
That offer would have sent four minor leaguers to the Padres, including Aaron Poreda and Clayton Richard, ranked as the team’s second- and third-best prospects by Baseball America respectively.
The Mariners appear committed to rebuilding, and unless they can sign Bedard to an extension by the trade deadline, whether buyers or sellers, it may be responsible for the team to sell high on Bedard.