Erik Bedard is low risk and high reward
It's possible that the expectations for Erik Bedard, especially considering what Bill Bavasi sent to Baltimore to get him, added to the perception that he's a jerk. He's not a great interview. He gives that little smile when asked a question he doesn't like. There is a belief that he doesn't care.
Of course, his inability to stay on the field has added to that. When he does pitch, you see so much potential. There's a solid pitcher in there and it drives us nuts when starts are pushed back, an entire season is lost and he goes under the knife. Again.
However, it's entirely possible that Erik Bedard actually has something other than ice water running through his veins.
Signed for 2011 to a non-guaranteed contract for one-year and $1 million, something not too common for a major league veteran, it appears Bedard really meant it when he said he owed something to Seattle. He has, after all, received a nice chunk of change from the Mariners and spent the better part of two years getting rehab on their dime.
While he could have easily gone to another team for a similar deal, perhaps even better, he stayed here and has a contract that might earn him nothing, but also has tons of incentives.
Reports are that Bedard could see as much as $5.6 million from the contract. The bonuses start at 50 innings and eight starts, and go all the way up to 190 innings and 30 starts. Chuck in nearly another half million if he's an All-Star or wins a Cy Young or Gold Glove. Heck, there's even a structure in case the team decides he'd be a better fit for the pen. It seems as though Bedard is open to anything, including being compensated fairly if he performs well.
What is Erik Bedard's 2011 Fate?
So, what are the two ideal scenarios that could come from this? Let's examine.
Ideal Scenario Number One—Mariners Contend in the AL West
This is unlikely. Really unlikely. Baseball is a strange game, though. Never have we seen so many players have the worst year of their career and perform as badly as we did with the 2010 squad. So, while not probable, it's possible as many players have career years in 2011, right?
What if Justin Smoak, Dustin Ackley and Michael Pineda burst onto the scene? What if Chone Figgins, Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez and Brendan Ryan have significant bounce-back seasons? What if Ichiro defies age again, Miguel Olivo earns that contract and Michael Saunders makes huge strides?
Oh, and what if Erik Bedard stays healthy, pitches 30 games and gives Seattle a strong first three with Felix Hernandez and Michael Pineda?
Yeah, and what if the sky turns purple and cows walk up-right? I know, not likely. But unlike the sky and cows transforming over night, there is a non-zero chance of this Mariners squad shocking the AL West. One percent is still better than zero, after all.
According to fangraphs.com's WAR, Bedard was worth 5.0 and 5.4 wins above a typical AAA replacement player in 2006 and 2007 respectively. The going rate for a win this off-season is $5 million. If Bedard could even hit, say, 3.5 WAR to account for age and regression that would make him "worth" $17.5 million if he got the going rate.
At that point, $5.6 million if he hit every single bonus would be a huge bargain. The risk is small, and the potential reward is huge.
Ideal Scenario Number Two—Bedard builds trade value
While perhaps the odds of this are as good as Milton Bradley and Eric Wedge being caught skipping down Edgar Martinez Drive together, it's still possible.
We can also look back to recent history to see what happened with Jarrod Washburn. All it takes is one good half of baseball, and an albatross all of a sudden becomes useful warm bodies. Neither Luke French or Mauricio Robles were blue chip prospects, but both filled holes in a soft upper minors system for the Mariners and add legit options to a major league club.
There is almost no chance Bedard is a Mariner on August 1st if he's healthy. Contending teams are always looking to add to their rotation, and in Bedard's case, he'd make a cheap addition to a team that could use a starter, spot starter or legit long man for the dog days of summer.
- Cut with no loss.
- Becomes a mop up guy in the pen.
- Spot starts to reduce the innings for Pineda.
Whatever the end result is, the risk is small. Let's try this one more time, Erik.