I talked earlier today to Mark Pieper, the Chicago-based agent for Erik Bedard (and then had to leave for my son’s basketball game before I could write it up). Pieper believes the one-year deal ($1.5 million base, pus incentives that could bring the total to $8.5 million) with a mutual option for 2011, is a win-win for his client and the Mariners.
“It’s the deal that made the most sense,” he said. “It’s the place Erik wanted to go. He got a lot of calls, a lot of interest.”
Pieper said about 17 teams inquired about Bedard, divided into three groups, in his estimation: “You had your group that did their homework, as far as putting an offer on the table. The second group talked about the parameters of a deal, and the third group was trying to still get comfortable with the medical situation.”
Bedard, he said, “was open-minded to going pretty much anywhere. He didn’t eliminate anyone. He had a lot of good dialogues and conversations. But he didn’t want to make any decisions until he had exhausted the opportunity with the Mariners, one way or the other. If they were going to be out, because of budget limit, or the makeup of their roster, or whatever, he wanted to hear that first.”
Pieper acknowledged that the timing of deal-making was difficult because of the uncertainty of Bedard’s health.
“You had to make sure you didn’t run off opportunity B, C and D while you were waiting for A,” he said. “But no one had to jump out and do something right away, because he was injured. Guys in Erik’s situation generally happen at the later end of free agency.
“For me, personally, all the moves the Mariners made, it made all the more sense to add Erik at the end. They’ve got a great rotation led by Felix and Cliff Lee, and a team that can make the playoffs. If Erik is healthy like we hope, with those three, they would be a tough team to beat in the playoffs.”
As for Bedard’s health, coming off last August’s surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder, Pieper said Bedard is going off the estimation of Dr. Lewis Yocum, who performed the surgery.
“He told us eight to nine months, which puts you in April or May,” he said. “I do understand that there are reports all over the board. In fairness to other doctors, we’re going off Dr. Yocum. He’s the surgeon, he’s well respected, he’s the one that knows Erik best.”
Pieper added that Bedard is encouraged by how he feels in workouts at his Navan, Ontario home.
“The way Erik feels is consistent with being able to come back at that time,” Pieper said. “Anything can happen. We don’t want to over-promise. We’re going off the information we have,and that’s kind of the date we’re shooting for. If he comes back in the middle of May, boy, that would be outstanding.”
As for the mutual option for 2011, which begins at $8 million and can rise with escalator clauses tied to his 2010 performance, those typically are never exercised. If the player doesn’t have a good year, the team doesn’t want to take on the salary, and if he excels, he’ll want another shot at the open market.
But Pieper said, “I wouldn’t rule it out. Especially if the team has success, and they have that 1-2-3 punch in the second half of the season. No disrespect to anyone else in the rotation, but there’s something intriguing about that possibility. Once those moves were made, it got Erik that much more excited. Erik, unfortunately, because he’s gotten injured, hasn’t had a chance to pitch many meaningful games at the end of the season, and that’s very intriguing to him.”