M's, Reds still interested in O's Bedard
by Ken Rosenthal
Updated: January 7, 2008, 11:34 PM EST 3 comments
Andy MacPhail, the Orioles' president of baseball operations, left his options open when he said last month that there was a "strong likelihood" the team would not trade left-hander Erik Bedard.
The Mariners are continuing their aggressive pursuit of Bedard, major-league sources say, and there are growing indications that the teams could be moving closer to a deal.
The Reds also remain interested in Bedard, but the Mariners are willing to trade their top outfield prospect, Adam Jones, while the Reds will not part with their best minor-league outfielder, Jay Bruce.
For the Orioles, the final approval for a Bedard deal would rest with owner Peter Angelos, who has long resisted trading veterans for prospects but hired MacPhail last June with the understanding that the team needed a new direction.
The Orioles' trade of shortstop Miguel Tejada to the Astros for five younger players in December signaled that Angelos might finally be willing to endure a lengthy rebuilding process.
But Bedard, a homegrown product, has greater sentimental value for the Orioles than Tejada — and trading him likely would lead to a separate deal involving second baseman Brian Roberts, an Angelos favorite.
Without Bedard, who went 13-5 with a 3.16 ERA last season and set a franchise record with 221 strikeouts, there would be little reason for the Orioles to keep Roberts, who also is two years away from free agency.
The Cubs remain the most likely fit for Roberts. The Mets made a strong run at Bedard at the general managers' meetings in November. The Indians, who have explored trades for impact players all off-season, like both Roberts and Bedard.
Perhaps the Indians could land one of the Orioles' stars, but it is highly unlikely that they could put together a blockbuster to obtain both, the way the Tigers did in acquiring third baseman Miguel Cabrera and left-hander Dontrelle Willis from the Marlins.
Mariners GM Bill Bavasi has said it is unlikely that he will trade his top pitching prospect, right-hander Brandon Morrow. But even if the M's decline to part with Morrow, they can put together an attractive package for Bedard.
Jones, compared by some scouts to Torii Hunter, would become the Orioles' long-term answer in center field, developing alongside right fielder Nick Markakis.
The Mariners also are willing to include catcher Jeff Clement and third baseman Matt Tuiasosopo, sources say. The Orioles, however, might prefer a choice of left-hander Tony Butler, right-hander Chris Tillman and 17-year-old shortstop Carlos Triunfel.
The A's strong returns for right-hander Dan Haren and outfielder Nick Swisher in recent trades seemingly has increased the Orioles' leverage. The addition of Bedard, meanwhile, would give the Mariners a potentially dynamic rotation to compete with the Angels in the American League West.
The M's recently signed free-agent right-hander Carlos Silva, and righty Felix Hernandez, lefty Jarrod Washburn and right Miguel Batista are their returning starters. Morrow is a candidate for either the rotation or the bullpen.
I think the die was cast when we traded Josh Hamilton. He could have been an essential trading piece along with Bailey/Cueto to land Bedard. The Mariners are now willing to trade 2 of their top prospects in Jones and Clement, and we no longer have the center fielder the Orioles want unless we are willing to trade Bruce to land Bedard. It seems unlikely at this point, so I expect we will soon see Bedard in Seattle.