Erik Bedard has been a nice surprise for the Rays this year, filling in admirably in the rotation to the tune of a 4.25 ERA in 14 starts after previously not being named to the Rays opening day roster. But now, his time as a Ray soon will be coming to a close. If Jeremy Hellickson comes back soon (he did just suffer a setback), then he will take Bedard’s spot in the rotation. Even if Hellickson isn’t healthy, the Rays will want to give some of their young Triple-A arms a big league chance. So, Bedard’s time with the Rays is limited. Now the question becomes will the Rays simply release him, or can they find a trade partner?
The Rays will definitely want to trade Bedard if they can, but the problem is that the value of a rental 35-year old starter that is well past his prime is limited. That being said, pitching is always a commodity on the trade market, and Bedard could slot in as a long reliever or a 5th starter on some teams. He could also be stashed in the bullpen as a reliever to serve as starting depth for quite a few teams. Good teams put together good pitching depth, and thus there might just be a market for Bedard.
When looking at individual teams, it seems that a few would be interested in Bedard. The Detroit Tigers could stand to add some starting depth, and their bullpen ERA sits at last in the big leagues. Bedard would be fine there in long relief, and he could start some games for the Tigers if they were to suffer an injury. The Cleveland Indians have gotten little production out of their 5th starters and Bedard might be an upgrade there, though they do not have a spot to slot him into the bullpen. The Kansas City Royals could stand to add some starting depth, and they could slot Bedard into the bullpen. The Los Angeles Angels desperately need a left-handed reliever, and the Seattle Mariners could seek an upgrade at 5th starter. All-in-all, it seems that plenty of contenders could use a pitcher like Bedard.
The biggest problem that remains is that there are plenty of pitchers that can do the same things as Bedard, many of them younger and with more team control. Thus, the value of Bedard is going to be limited. Teams recognize that if Bedard isn’t traded, he is going to get designated for assignment. Thus, they could simply wait until that happens and either put in a claim on Bedard or sign him once he is released. By doing so, they would not have to give up anything to acquire him, and if their claim didn’t go through, they could just target a similar pitcher to Bedard. That said, a team could trade for Bedard to ensure that he is acquired rather than taking their chances with him on waivers. The Rays may only be able to get some combination of cash and a fringe-prospect in return, but considering they brought in Bedard on a minor league deal this year, that isn’t so bad.
In the end, it is a bit of a tossup if Erik Bedard is traded. He could be a nice addition to many teams, but whether those teams think he is worth trading for remains to be seen. If the Rays can get something in return, they will have to take it. Whether that actually happens, though, is quite up in the air.