Brewers' GM Doug Melvin has made it perfectly clear that his top priority this offseason is to upgrade a starting rotation that finished last in the National League in ERA. In fact, he is hoping to add two arms for the team in 2010.
One arm is likely to come to Milwaukee from the imminent trade of JJ Hardy. While the other could come from a trade as well, the more likely scenario will see Melvin look at the available free agents.
This year's crop of free agents won't have a superstar like CC Sabathia, but there are several arms on the market capable of significantly improving the Brewers.
Over the next couple weeks, I'll take a look at potential targets and how each one may or may not fit with the 2010 Brewers.
When Erik Bedard was traded to the Seattle Mariners for five players in 2008, they thought they were getting a left-hander on the verge of becoming one of the best pitchers in the game.
Instead, they got a pitcher who made fewer than half of his starts over the last two seasons.
Despite making only 30 starts in his two seasons with the Mariners, Bedard still produced "ace" quality numbers.
In 2008, he finished with a 6-4 record with a 3.67 ERA and averaged eight strikeouts for every nine innings.
His 2009 numbers were even better. Although he was just 5-3, he had a 2.82 ERA and averaged just under 10 strikeouts every nine innings with a 1.193 WHIP.
Bedard is very similar to a former Brewers' ace, Ben Sheets. Both are great pitchers when healthy, but the major problem comes when trying to keep them to make their regular starts.
Bedard is projected to be a type B free agent, meaning the Brewers wouldn't give up any draft pick compensation to sign him.
In fact, the Brewers wouldn't lose their first-round pick if they signed a type A free agent either, due to their finishing in the bottom half of baseball, record-wise.
Regardless of his injury history, Bedard has several positives going for him as he moves into free agency.
A powerful, lefty arm from a starter is always a valuable commodity. He will only be 31 when the season starts in 2010.
His career ERA of 3.71 has come entirely as a starter in the American League and would likely drop if he decided to pitch in the National League.
Assuming Bedard comes back completely healthy from surgery on his left shoulder and labrum, he must still show his ability to pitch a full season. He has never pitched 200 innings in a season and made only 30-plus starts once in his career.
Bedard likely cost himself a big contract when he was shut down for the season in August. A desperate team could throw a multiple-year, high dollar amount his way, but that isn't very likely.
A one-year, incentive laden deal should be what Bedard receives. It will give him a chance to show the league he can remain healthy for an entire year, and then he can seek a more lucrative deal next winter.
If Doug Melvin does feel like gambling, Bedard would provide the possibility of a high reward in return. Although he would be a big addition to the Brewers' pitching staff, it's unlikely they'll pursue him.
Having a rough history with an injury-prone pitcher may make Melvin very hesitant to sign Bedard, even to a payroll-friendly contract.
To read more by Jesse Motiff, click here .
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