Exclusive: Bedard speaks
Baltimore Orioles ace
"It seems like a great situation for me," Bedard told SI.com. "They're a winning team and they're not in a rebuilding stage. King
Bedard will be introduced at a 5 p.m. ET press conference in Seattle.
Bedard's 10.93 strikeouts per nine innings topped all major league starters in 2007 -- in fact, just eight starters in baseball history have ever finished a season with a higher ratio. Felix Hernandez's 7.80 K/9 was 10th in the American League, and the Mariners will join the Red Sox as the only A.L. team that will feature two starters who finished in the top ten in strikeout rate last season.
A strained oblique ended Bedard's season five weeks early last year. He finished 13-5 with a 3.16 ERA, and tied three other pitchers for fifth in the A.L. Cy Young voting.
Bedard expressed to SI.com a fondness for the Emerald City. "I love the city, other than it raining a little too much," he said. "I can't wait to see what it's all about. If I could have picked where I'd be traded, [Seattle] would have been one of my top choices."
Still, he said that his departure from Baltimore was somewhat bittersweet. "I got drafted by them in 1999 and I've been with them ever since. I don't know any other organization. It's kind of weird leaving."
The long-gestating deal was first reported to be in the works twelve days ago, on January 27, but Jones and Sherrill didn't travel to Baltimore to undergo physicals until this past Monday, and Bedard only flew to Seattle from his home in Navan, Ontario for his exam on Thursday.
In a discussion about the potential trade with SI.com late last month, Orioles first baseman Kevin Millar said, "It's a double edged sword, because you want to start a team with Erik Bedard, period. On the flip side, if you're a team that's looking to build for the future and you can get four prospects... it's a Catch-22. No one wants to trade Erik Bedard. But it's almost a no-brainer where you have to."
Bedard becomes the second front-of-the-rotation starter to be traded this off-season; two-time Cy Young Award winner Johan Santana was dealt from the Minnesota Twins to the New York Mets last Friday. Bedard has yet to throw 200 innings in a big league season (a benchmark that Santana has reached in each of the past four years), but he had a lower ERA in 2007 than Santana, and might have had a higher trade value because he won't become a free agent until after the 2009 season.
The Mets gave Santana a 6-year, $137.5 million contract extension in order to complete their acquisition of him. (Bedard had requested $8 million for the 2008 season in arbitration with the Orioles). Most baseball observers consider the package the Orioles received for Bedard to be superior to that which the Twins got from the Mets.