The Seattle Mariners are mired in a 16-game losing streak despite featuring on of baseball’s better pitching staffs. With the front of the rotation offering up reigning Cy Young Felix Hernandez and the awe-inspiring Michael Pineda, two pitchers who aren’t getting traded anytime soon, the contenders throughout the sport are circling like sharks in the water, trying to sink their teeth into the likes of Doug Fister, Jason Vargas, and now Erik Bedard.
It comes as no surprise that the Detroit Tigers, well known to be on the hunt for a starter, have been linked to all three.
Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated tweeted today the Tigers interest in the oft-injured Bedard. The southpaw is slated to make his return to the mound on Friday for Seattle, coming back from a sore knee. If you’re anything like the rest of us, when you think of the Tigers dealing for a Seattle left hander with a sore knee, you can’t get the image of Jarrod Washburn out of your head.
Bedard has better stuff than Washburn did, or than Fister and Vargas for that matter, but his injury history is a real concern. It hasn’t just been the knee that’s been an issue, either. Since he was traded from Baltimore to Seattle after the 2007 season, Bedard has made no more than 15 starts in any season and he missed the entire 2010 campaign. If he takes the mound on Friday, Bedard will make his 16th start of this season.
Still, if they can keep him on the mound, Bedard is plenty good enough to boost the Tigers rotation. He boasts a 3.00 ERA this year in 90 innings. In that time he’s fanned 85 batters and allowed just 74 hits. Betting that Bedard will remain healthy for the final two months of the year is a bad gamble, however. He’s thrown all of 245 innings total in the four seasons since arriving in Seattle. Justin Verlander threw 240 innings in 2009 alone and 224 more last season.
It isn’t even a case where money owed is part of the gamble with Bedard as he’s signed for only $1 million this year. Any team acquiring him would be doing so with their eyes focused only on the potential reward if he stays healthy and completely turning a blind eye to the obvious risk that he might make one or two starts total before getting shut down again.
If the Tigers are indeed shopping at Mariners-Mart, they would do well to steer clear of Bedard. If Dave Dombrowski has any interest in keeping his job beyond this year, he cannot gamble on a guy with this kind of track record. Yes, the price in terms of prospects will be greater should he choose to pursue Vargas, another lefty, rather than Bedard, but the upside would be that Vargas can be retained beyond this season as an arbitration-eligible player. His 4.09 ERA isn’t as sexy as Bedard’s, but Vargas has been durable, making 31 starts last year and another 21 so far in 2011.
Updates on the Rest of the Targets
Danny Knobler tweeted this morning that the Tigers continue to scout both Fister and Vargas, as well as Aaron Harang of San Diego. Jayson Stark says the Padres are inclined to keep Harang and attempt to re-sign him this fall. Of course, they could trade him away and still have that option. There is word also that Detroit is making a strong push to land Hiroki Kuroda of the Dodgers, but the general feeling is that Kuroda won’t waive his no-trade clause to come to Motown. An extra $1-2 million incentive might help persuade him, says Tim Dierkes.
As far as Ubaldo Jimenez, I had given up those rumors for dead about a week ago, but Jon Paul Morosi has the Rockies odds of dealing their ace at 50/50 and states the Tigers and Reds are very strong suitors. So I guess that might not be out of the question after all.