The Erik Bedard Conundrum: To Trade or Not to Trade?

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Erik Bedard is finally starting to redeem himself. After three frustrating, injury-plagued seasons and an 0-4 start to this year, he is once again pitching like the guy who finished fifth in the Cy Young Award voting in 2007, ahead of Roy Halladay, Justin Verlander, and Johann Santana. He is, in other words, the guy the Mariners expected to get when they traded five players to the Orioles for him in 2008. And his return to form is exactly why the M's will likely send Bedard packing before the July 31 trade deadline.

After a sparkling seven-inning, three-hit performance in last night's 3-1 victory over the Angels, Bedard has a 3.16 ERA, a 4-4 record, and has allowed just 10 earned runs over the past 47 1/3 innings. He's certainly not of the same caliber as Verlander and Halladay anymore, but he has been a rock-solid third starter.

Bedard is a free agent after this season. Barring another injury or relapse into mediocrity, he'll command significantly more than the $1 million he is currently being paid. The Mariners will have some money to burn this off-season, but tops on their shopping list will (or at least should) be a designated hitter who can actually hit. The leading candidate, Prince Fielder, will not come cheap. Will Bedard offer the M's a discount on his services because they've been loyal to him these past few years? If not, he will be wearing a different uniform sooner rather than later.

The Mariners are relevant and competitive, improving to 35-34 with last night's win and staying within a game of the Rangers in the AL West, but they are not contenders by any means. The Yankees, meanwhile, are currently relying on Freddy Garcia, AJ Burnett. and Bartolo Colon for their playoff run.

Earlier this year, ESPN's Buster Olney opined that the Mariners are "almost certainly in position to ask for a top prospect" in exchange for Bedard. Perhaps the Yankees' young catcher Jesus Montero, the centerpiece of the aborted Cliff Lee deal last year, would be offered again.

(We can dream, right?)

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