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November 25, 2009 at 7:05 AM

Erik Bedard already has some free agent suitors

Bet most of you forgot about this guy, huh? In all of the off-season discussion I’ve heard about what the Mariners have to do, the name Erik Bedard seldom comes up. That’s understandable, given how no one is certain exactly when he’ll make it back to a mound in 2010.
The Mariners are approaching him as they would any other free agent — meaning they will exercise plenty of caution before making a bid. They will want to see how Bedard is progressing in his rehabilitation from shoulder surgery and gauge what his true interest level is in returning to the Emerald City. Not the stock quotes given by player and team officials about how much “he loves it here” but real honest-to-goodness interest in a three-peat with the M’s.
I’d say the odds are pretty high that Bedard will look to move out of a city where he’ll be best remembered for two injury-plagued seasons — the first of which helped provide the coup de grace on Bill Bavasi’s tenure as a Mariners GM.
Any team bidding on Bedard will be looking for an undervalued commodity, meaning you can expect plenty of incentive-laden offers with a low base salary. Well, at least a much lower base than Bedard first looked to be in line for 24 months ago.
But the combination of Bedard’s always-high upside and the shot at a low-cost bargain means there should be plenty of offers thrown Bedard’s way. Already, we’re seeing indications that Bedard will in all likelihood have options at finding a new home east of the Rockies.

This story in the Baltimore Sun indicates that Bedard is at the top of the Baltimore Orioles’ wish list. How big a coup would that be for O’s president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail? Not only does he get to reap the continued rewards of the five players he recieved from Seattle, but then gets to have Bedard back as well just when his rebuilding team is poised to make a climb up the standings? Sounds good to me. Given what went down two years ago in the two weeks before Bedard’s trade to Seattle, I’m sure MacPhail will do all the medical due dilligence humanly possible on Bedard. But MacPhail indicates in the story that he is willing to take a risk this winter on a high upside guy. Stay tuned.
This story in today’s Boston Globe lists Bedard as one of the pitchers the Red Sox will likely pursue in their attempt to land a second-or-third tier starter to complement the team’s existing rotation. I’ve been reading the last couple of weeks about how the Red Sox are likely to go the Jeremy Hermida route in their bid for free agent pitchers. Meaning, they will try to find a lower-cost, high reward type of guy rather than attempting to make a splash with the bigger names out there. Hermida fit that mold as an outfielder when the Red Sox traded for him earlier this month.
This piece by Yahoo! Sports writer Jeff Passan mentions the Royals going hard after Bedard. Let’s see, Bedard and Jose Guillen in the same clubhouse? Lots of intriguing possibilities there, though Guillen may be on his way out of Kansas City. Hey, at least Bedard would be reunited with shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt. Just like old times, seeing all those grounders shoot through the infield.
The same story mentions the M’s being one of four teams going hardest after Cuban defector Noel Arguelles , who is sort of a poor man’s Aroldis Chapman. What are the odds of the M’s landing him? How should I know? Ask the guy’s agents. They are the only ones who know for sure and if they’re any good at what they do, they won’t tell anyone until a signature is landed on a contract. But four teams going hard on a guy in the early stages means very little. Those four teams could turn into eight by the time the winter meetings roll around. The only thing that matters here is who signs the guy, not who has an early lead. Same with any free agent, so let’s make this a pre-emptive strike against all of the inevitable “What are the chances the M’s will sign so-and-so?”
Other than that, things are eerily quiet.
Not surprising, since this is usually what happens in the weeks leading up to the winter meetings. Think of it as the start of a 10,000-meter race, Everybody is jockeying for position at the start right now but we could see the lead change hands numerous times before somebody crosses the tape.



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