Another day, another pitcher dealt.
Just one day after trading Doug Fister to Detroit, the Seattle Mariners traded away another member of their formidable starting rotation by sending Erik Bedard and minor leaguer Josh Fields to the Boston Red Sox in a three-team deal (also involving the Dodgers) that netted the Mariners outfield prospects Trayvon Robinson and Chih-Hsien Chiang.
Part of me is very sad to see Bedard go, as I have long felt that he was unfairly portrayed in the public eye during his time in Seattle. When the club acquired him from Baltimore four years ago, many expected Bedard to be the final piece of the puzzle and led the Mariners back into the postseason for the first time since 2001.
Unfortunately, it did not work out that way, and Bedard suffered through an injury-plagued tenure during his time with the Mariners that prevented him from matching his Cy Young-caliber 2007 season with the Orioles.
It also did not help that Bedard was portrayed in a negative light by the media, who found him to be a difficult interview instead of the rah-rah type that usually populated the staff. Combined with his injury issues, this led many to believe that Bedard was a selfish player who only cared about his own numbers.
As a result, it took far too long for Mariner fans to embrace who Bedard actually is—a thoughtful team player who doesn’t care much for the limelight. He also proved to be quite loyal, choosing to accept a non-guaranteed contract with the Mariners this offseason instead of a guaranteed deal elsewhere—rare for a player coming off a rotator cuff injury that wiped out his 2010 season.
When healthy, Bedard was an effective pitcher in a Mariner uniform; the problem, of course, was that he only started 46 games in four seasons with the club. He has pitched well this year, making 16 starts and pitching 91.1 innings pitched. His 8.6 K rate is right in line with his career norm, while his three walk rate is the lowest of his career.
He is not a starter who relies solely on the defense, as his 3.67 FIP closely mirrors his 3.45 ERA. In fact, he had been so impressive that there was even talk of re-signing him after the season’s end.
At his best, Bedard is a lefty arm that is capable of giving a team six to eight dominant innings per start. However, he no longer has the ability to go much over 100 pitches in an outing. I also have to wonder how an individual who values his privacy as much as Bedard will handle playing in the fish bowl known as Red Sox Nation.
As for Josh Fields…well, he still has a chance to be a useful pitcher. The Mariners’ first-round selection in 2008, Fields, was a dominating college closer at Georgia who was selected because the previous administration thought he could help the big league club quickly.
However, Fields held out until the following February, and ongoing health issues kept him from ever wearing a Mariner uniform outside of spring training.
Robinson, a 23-year-old outfielder from the Dodgers’ system, is regarded as a five-tool prospect who has 26 home runs and a .938 OPS at Triple-A Albuquerque so far this season, and his defense is regarded as better than passable in center field. He is prone to striking out, but part of that is the result of improved plate discipline. It would not be a shock to see him in a Mariner uniform this September.
Chiang, a 23-year-old native of Taiwan from the Red Sox system, has a nice lefty bat with some power (18 home runs at Double-A Portland this season) and is regarded as an excellent bad-ball hitter. He won’t draw many walks, but he also doesn’t strike out at a very high rate. Defensively, he is a converted second baseman who has spent the year in the corner outfield spots.
As much as I hate seeing Bedard go, I am happy to see the Mariners get serious about rebuilding around a great young core already in place. Both Robinson and Chiang are nice additions to the system.
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