Bedard Confirms Deal
Sullivan google translates a French newspaper in which Bedard is quoted as saying:
“I’m really happy it was my first choice but to return to Seattle”, he said yesterday as he was en route to Peoria, Arizona.
The deal is, as reported, $1.5M in guaranteed money and a shipload of incentives. Kudos to Jim Street for getting it right.
While a physical for Bedard is obviously not a minor thing, the Mariners have been in charge of his rehab, so they obviously are aware of the current state of his arm, more than anyone else. I wouldn’t expect them to find a problem that nukes the deal. In what can only be considered a pretty big surprise, Bedard is a Mariner again.
My thoughts on the deal – obviously, for $1.5 million out of pocket, the risk is minimal. He could suffer a setback and never pitch again, and the M’s wouldn’t be out much of anything. Signing Bedard to this deal won’t keep them from doing anything else you might want them to do. The guaranteed money is basically irrelevant.
And, as we all have seen in spurts, when he is healthy, he’s a really good pitcher. Despite pitching through an injury, his FIP last year was basically the same as Felix’s. His curveball is a knockout weapon, and when he’s on the mound at anything near 100%, he’s one of the best left-handed pitchers in the game. The thought of what he could be is extremely enticing, I know. I realize that the natural reaction to this is to envision a front of the rotation that goes Felix-Lee-Bedard, then start jumping up and down and hugging yourself.
Not to be a downer, but we have to really temper our expectations of what he’s going to give us, though. He’s out until at least May, and he’s not known for being a quick healer. June is probably more likely. So, for the first 1/3 of the season, don’t count on seeing him on the mound. If he recovers to the point of being able to pitch in June, then he’s going to have to work his way back up, going through his own personal spring training. He’s not going to just be ready to throw 100 pitches in a big league game right off the bat. There’s going to be rust to work through.
And, honestly, there’s a question of how long he’ll last. He hasn’t pitched a game in September since 2006. He broke down at 80 innings in each of the last two years. You hope that surgery has fixed the problem, but these shoulder issues aren’t like broken legs; they don’t heal as good as new. He could easily end up taking the Mike Hampton career path, where even when he’s healthy, he’s not really healthy, and he limps along from one DL trip to the next.
Bedard has now had both labrum surgery and Tommy John surgery. His arm has been through some wars. Trying to figure out just how much is left in the tank is a guessing game. Obviously, we’d love for him to be the new Chris Carpenter, and there’s a chance for that to happen. But there’s an equal (or probably greater) chance of him being the new Mark Prior, where he just continually breaks down and never gets back to the early promise he had.
Just because of what is possible and the low cost, I think you have to like this deal. The M’s aren’t really risking anything, and there are scenarios where Bedard comes back and pitches well, giving them the best 1-2-3 in all of baseball, and a potentially dominating playoff rotation. Just because of the upside and the lack of risk, this is absolutely a deal worth making, and I’m glad to see that the M’s went for reward rather than conservative safety.
But, on the other hand, we should be realistic about what to expect. Bedard coming back in May and giving us 120+ innings of All-Star pitching is just really unlikely. We should hope for about half a season’s worth of innings, and not have too high of expectations for the level of performance he’ll offer, coming off another major arm surgery. Be hopeful, but be realistic.