The fall has been quite steep for Erik Bedard.
When Bedard arrived in Seattle two years ago, he was hailed as the Mariners' newest ace and the guy who would team with Felix Hernandez to give the Mariners one of the best one-two punches in baseball.
The Mariners were willing to give up Adam Jones, Chris Tillman, and George Sherrill for Bedard, even though they knew that Bedard was going to be a free agent after the 2009 season.
But now, as Bedard plans to explore the free agent market for the first time, he will not be greeted by the lavish multi-year contracts the best pitchers are met with.
And the reality is this: When Bedard is actually playing, he IS one of the best pitchers in baseball.
But, unfortunately for Bedard, the past two seasons have been riddled with injuries and as a result, he is too much of a liability right now for teams to commit to him long-term.
What will the market hold for Bedard? Let's take a look:
The Case for Bedard
Quality left-handed starting pitcher
When Bedard is actually on the field, he's one of the best left-handed starting pitchers in baseball.
In 15 starts this season, Bedard struck out 90 batters in 83 innings, had a tremendous 2.82 ERA, and produced a 1.19 WHIP. In addition, who wouldn't want a starting pitcher with a K/9 rate of 9.8?!
Since 2006, Bedard's ERA has never exceeded 4.00. Batters have also only hit .247 against Bedard during the course of his career.
The Case against Bedard
Can Bedard actually stay healthy?
That's the big question.
Bedard has only started 30 games in the past two seasons and needs to prove to teams that he can stay healthy and productive for a full season.
There have been numerous stories written about Bedard over the years stating that he's a quiet guy and somewhat of a strange dude. I don't really put too much stock into this, but we'll see if Bedard's reputation affects whether certain teams go after him.
Because of Bedard's injury history, there is no way he should garner anything more than a one-year deal with incentives.
As a result, Bedard will be competing on a market with other pitchers who have a history of injuries and performing well: Justin Duchscherer, Kelvim Escobar, Brett Myers, Jason Schmidt, etc.
The major advantage that Bedard has over the rest of those guys is that he's a left-handed starting pitcher. In addition, I'd say that Bedard has more upside than the rest of the guys I listed.
Elias Ranking: Type B
There's no way that the Mariners will offer Bedard arbitration. Bedard earned $7.75 million in 2009 and there is simply be too much risk in paying Bedard that much money when you take his injury history into account.
One year at $7 million with incentives
Here are some comparable contracts:
Brad Penny (One year/$5 million)
Jon Garland (One year/$7 million)
John Smoltz (One year/$5.5 million)