Soon-to-Be UFA Erik Bedard May Become a Blue Jay

Conor HoganCorrespondent IJanuary 29, 2008

Erik Bedard has, over the last few years, turned down several offers of long-term deals with the Baltimore Orioles. 

Although it has been reported that this is exactly the sort of contract Bedard wants, it is plain to see that he will agree to such a deal only on his own terms.  

Bedard will only sign to a long-term deal if he is paid a minimum of $8M per year.  But even if were to be offered that sum it's doubtful he would actually accept it. 

A rumor holds that a member of the Orioles coaching staff stated—in a private conversation with a member of the Blue Jays coaching staff—that he would not be surprised to see Bedard in a Jays uniform once he becomes a UFA.  

And why not?  Bedard would have to wait just one more year, and then he’d be a free agent with the option of becoming the second or third pitcher in the Jays’ rotation.   

Although the Jays would find it tempting to have three ace pitchers and a strong prospect in McGowan, the fact is that Bedard won't come cheaply.  He will still be asking for at least $8M per year, and Bedard won't take a home country discount just to please the fans.  

He is a proud pitcher; that's what makes him tick.  He prides himself on the work he does, but like anyone else he wants to receive the compensation he deserves.

Still, the question remains: Why would Bedard even want to become a Jay?

Yes, they are his favorite team.  Yes, Toronto is a good city home to a team of tightly knit players.  But other than that, why would anyone want to play for the Jays?

First: Anyone who chooses to look can see that the Jays have been making strong efforts to shore up their club over the last few years, with Mr. Rogers giving Ricciardi more money to spend on the team.  

Second: The Jays have steadily improved as a club on the field posting back-to-back .500+ seasons.  This last year (the second .500+ season) the club’s key talent was out for months at a time due to injury, and they were still able to win more games than they lost.  Something else to be considered is that they were still in the race for the playoffs midway through September in a division which hails the Yanks and Red Sox.  

Third:  This team has a great batting lineup.  Bedard (or any other pitcher for that matter) would be well supported by the runs the team puts up.  The Jays, unlike last year, no longer solely rely upon the HR for their runs either.  

By adding the likes of Ekstein and Rolen you have players who tend to hit for extra bases, and since the Jays already have Overbay, Wells, Rios, Hill, and Thomas (who are all players who hit 30+ doubles a year), extra bases are the Jays’ strong suit.  This makes Toronto one of the few teams that able to truly support their pitchers run-wise.

Fourth:  This year the Jays will have arguably the best defense in the entire league.  With Scott Rolen (many times gold-gloved) patrolling third, Vernon Wells (with three gold gloves) at center, and Alex Rios (with his second straight All Star appearance and his canon-like arm) in left field, they are more than covered.  

All in all there are many reasons why Bedard could and should become a Jay, but it won't happen unless Bedard keeps his pen away from a long-term deal til the end of this year.  

With Bedard, the Jays would be better than there two division counterparts, the Yankees and Red Sox—or at least on par.  They would have the best pitching rotation by far, with three aces in Roy Halladay, AJ Burnett, and Erik Bedard—not forgetting of course Dustin McGowan who has ace pitcher written all over him.  

The Jays would have arguably the best defense in both the infield and outfield.  Plus, they would have one of the best batting orders in the league.  

Erik Bedard is not only the last piece the Jays need to bring them into the playoffs—he is also what they need to bring the World Series back to Canada.