The Future of Erik Bedard

Josh LevittSenior Analyst IAugust 13, 2009

OAKLAND, CA - MAY 27:  Erik Bedard #45 of the Seattle Mariners pitches against the Oakland Athletics at the Oakland Coliseum on May 27, 2009 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

It was only two years ago that Erik Bedard was thought of as one of the best pitchers in the American League.

Everyone remembers that the Mariners, in an act of desperation, gave up Adam Jones, Chris Tillman, and more to acquire Bedard from the Orioles. The Mariners, and many baseball folks, really believed at the time that Bedard was on the fast track to becoming one of the best pitchers in baseball.

In two seasons with the Mariners, Bedard pitched pretty well, but he could not avoid the injury bug.
In 2008, Bedard did not pitch after July 4. And yesterday the Mariners announced that Bedard was to undergo shoulder surgery and probably will miss the remainder of the season.
Now, Erik Bedard's future is cloudy.
Bedard will be a free agent after this season and his value on the open market is somewhat undefined. There is no doubt that Bedard can pitch very effectively, but what no one knows is whether or not he can stay healthy for a full season.
This offseason should have been the one where Bedard cashed in on his tremendous ability, but at this point, Bedard would be very lucky to get a major commitment from a team because of the significant risk of injury.
With that said, I still think that Bedard might be able to do better than a one year contract loaded with incentives if he's able to come back this season and pitch effectively. I know that Bedard returning is probably a longshot at this point, especially with the Mariners fading out of contention, but it certainly could help him down the road financially if he can make a few starts.
But for argument's sake, let's assume that Bedard does not play again in 2009. If I were Bedard's agent, I would look at the contract that the Red Sox gave an aging John Smoltz last offseason.
Even though Smoltz missed a majority of the season because of major shoulder surgery and was over 40 years old, he was still able to get $5.5 million guaranteed from the Red Sox in addition to incentives and bonuses that would make the contract exceed $10 million.
In a logical world, shouldn't Erik Bedard, at age 30, be able to top that $5 million guarantee? Absolutely.
In a logical world, shouldn't Erik Bedard, who had a 2.82 ERA in 15 starts this season, be able to top the additional $5 million in bonuses? Absolutely.
So while Bedard has to be frustrated and disappointed by all of his injuries, his next contract still should be a lucrative one-year deal. If all goes well, then Bedard could position himself beautifully for a huge contract after 2010.