As Peavy saga drags on, Bedard may become hot commodity
Erik Bedard is among six Mariners who could be traded and impact a pennant race
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The Mariners made some early noise with their nice start to the season, but the club could create a much bigger national story as a trader this summer. Unlike a vast majority of teams expected to straddle the buy/sell fence, the now 22-26 Mariners seem to understand their position as a rebuilding team. What's more, they have decent, veteran talent to trade, including front-line, left-handed pitcher Erik Bedard, who should become an increasingly popular trade target.
Bedard's value on the market could depend in part on Jake Peavy's desires and some other teams' decisions regarding whether to shop their starters (for instance, Cleveland and Cliff Lee) but regardless of what happens with the others, Bedard may still be seen as the top gun out there. Bedard, who is reasonably priced at $7.75 million, could enhance several rotations, including those of the Phillies, who could now lose Brett Myers for the year, plus the White Sox, Brewers and others.
Bedard leads at least a sextet of Seattle players with the potential to go elsewhere and impact a pennant race, with pitchers Jarrod Washburn and Miguel Batista, third baseman Adrian Beltre, shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt and first baseman Russell Branyan also likely to draw interest. The Mariners might also fantasize about dumping injured pitcher Carlos Silva and the $34 million remaining on his bloated contract, but of course that's not possible.
Washburn (who makes $10.35 million in the last year of his deal) is having a solid season and could help plenty of teams; Branyan (.608 slugging percentage) is red hot and a bargain at $1.4 million; and Batista could start for some teams. But the highly-paid Beltre ($12 million, also in the last year of his deal) is off to his usual painfully slow start at .212, and Betancourt's recent defensive regression will limit interest, despite a seemingly reasonable $13.75 million deal through 2011.
Meanwhile, Bedard, who is 3-2 with a 2.48 ERA and back to showing his immense talent after a rough initial year in Seattle, is the clear headliner.
With the $60 million remaining on Peavy's contract, plus his complete no-trade clause and very specific wishes (he apparently wants a contending team in the National League that's in either the Midwest or West, or he may just want the Cubs), the most interesting top-of-the-rotation action may actually revolve around Bedard, who was acquired by Seattle's previous regime for a raft of young talent and who is now months from free agency. Bedard's first year in Seattle was marked by difficult interpersonal relationships and nagging injuries. But this year, it's all been positive.
"He's a different guy, and he's not that durable," one competing GM said of Bedard. "But this could be a real market opportunity for [the Mariners]. There are not a lot of mid-to-frontline starting pitchers available. Teams just might overpay."
Interested teams wouldn't pay like Seattle did, when it sent budding center field star Adam Jones and three talented pitchers to Baltimore for Bedard. But they'd probably have to pay more than the White Sox -- who agreed to trade four pitching prospects, none of them considered great -- in the deal that Peavy rejected. Considering Peavy's high price and empowering no-trade clause, Bedard may actually become the gem of a thin pitching market.
Fallout from Peavy
Peavy can't be blamed one bit for invoking the no-trade provision that was negotiated in good faith. But one GM on a competing team said he believes the very public selling of Peavy, accompanied by continued speculation about which teams Peavy might accept, could become "the death of the no-trade clause.''
That may be wishful thinking. But this clause has certainly led to months of angst and heartache for the Padres, who competitors believe are anxious now to be rid of the $60 million or so remaining on Peavy's deal. While Padres GM Kevin Towers arranged a trade with the White Sox to get left-handed pitching prospects Aaron Poreda and Clayton Richard, as well as two more pitchers (one NL official said he believed Lance Broadway was on the list and could have been the third piece), the excising of the loot was as attractive as the players they were to receive.
The Padres are said to be continuing to try to find the right spot for Peavy, who seems destined to have more words written about him this season than any other player. They can keep throwing darts out there and hoping one will stick. Or they can focus on teams Peavy might accept.
There's no reason why Peavy has to provide an expansive list (or any list, really) of teams that he would accept, and there's nothing to compel him to agree to go anyplace. His original, very unofficial, list included the Braves, Astros, Cardinals and Dodgers in addition to the Cubs; one person close to Peavy said he likes any team in his own division except the Coors-dwelling Rockies (not that adding to the Giants and Rockies would do all that much since both teams are flush with top-of-the-rotation starters) and one competing GM thought Peavy would accept the Dodgers, Angels or Cubs. Towers would likely prefer to not hand Peavy to the rival Dodgers, though at some point desperation may set in.
One person connected to the Padres said, "All I keep hearing is Cubs, Cubs, Cubs." Eventually San Diego may have no choice but to try to engage the Cubs again, a team that really doesn't desperately need starting pitching, could be hampered by a change in ownership that's going slow (even commissioner Bud Selig is said to be frustrated by the pace -- though there's no indication that the Ricketts family's bid is threatened) and probably knows there's a pretty good chance that Peavy could turn down most or all other teams. This is the no-trade clause that has wreaked havoc on an organization.
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