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Erik Bedard: What's His Trade Market?

As the July 31st trade deadline approaches, the Seattle Mariners are in a real pickle. They are one of those teams that aren't very good, but yet find themselves in the middle of a pennant race because of the mediocrity of their division.

They enter Monday's action just 1.5 games behind the first place Texas Rangers in the American League West and a reasonable seven games behind the Boston Red Sox in the Wild Card standings.

A situation like this will really test GM Jack Zduriencik. Does he really believe the Mariners can win the division and become a buyer at the deadline or does he trade off some assets and plan for the future in Seattle?

We should have a better understanding of what the Mariners are going to be over the next month or so, but if they do become sellers, they do have a couple of assets a contending team could want. One of those assets is LHP Erik Bedard.

Let's take a look at the pros, cons, and which teams might be interested in the 32-year-old lefty.

Pros: Bedard came to the Mariners in the winter of 2008 in a blockbuster trade that sent Adam Jones, George Sherrill, and Chris Tillman to the Baltimore Orioles and since then, has been nothing short of a bust. Bedard was supposed to be the leader of the Mariner pitching staff, but the only thing he has led the Mariners in is trips to the disabled list.

Coming into this season, Bedard has only started 30 games for the Mariners. But 2011 has been a different story. Bedard has been healthy and has been one of the best pitchers in the American League.

The former Oriole has a 2.93 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, averaged 8.7 K's/9, and has been worth 1.5 wins for Seattle. He's been worth more wins than Jon Lester, John Danks, and Carl Pavano. Bedard has been really solid this season.

When Bedard is with the Orioles, he averaged about 91 mph on his fastball. Through 15 starts this season, Bedard has been averaging 90.8 mph on his fastball, so despite all of his arm issues, his velocity is still there.

What stands out to me is his O-Swing Percentage. Hitters are swinging at 29.2% of Bedard's pitches outside the strike zone, which is a career high (by seven %) for him. That tells me Bedard's stuff is still pretty sharp and he is fooling hitters this season.

In terms of his contract, Bedard is working on a $1.5 million contract this season and can earn up to $6.35 million in performance incentives*. He has an $8 million club option for 2012 with a $250,000 buyout. That's a pretty friendly contract for a team looking to acquire Bedard even if he does reach all of his performance incentives.

Cons: When is the other shoe going to drop for Bedard? When he is going to go down with yet another arm injury? That's what every GM and their mother will ask themselves if Bedard is made available at the trade deadline.

You could be rest assured that if the Mariners become sellers and Bedard is up for grabs, the Mariners are going to get greedy. Left-handed starters who are striking out almost nine batters a game don't grow on trees.

Is there going to be a team out there that is going to give up a couple of prospects for a guy who gets hurt more than a 12-year-old kid in Southern California learning how to skateboard for the first time? That answer is most likely yes, but that GM will be taking a big time risk.

My last negative regarding Bedard -- and this is a personal opinion -- I think Bedard would rather pitch in Seattle or Pittsburgh than pitch in New York or Boston. I just don't see big time performance in Game 6 of the ALCS from him.

He just strikes me as a guy who is happy pitching on a team 20 games out of first in July rather than the guy who wants the ball in front of 40,000 people. I could be dead wrong on this, but there is only one way to find that out.

Now that we have looked at the pros and cons of the native of Ontario, Canada, let's take a look at the teams that might be interested in acquiring Bedard...

New York Yankees: What better way to neutralize the predominantly left-handed lineup of the Boston Red Sox with another tough lefty to pair with CC Sabathia.

Cleveland Indians: With Shin-Soo Choo out for eight weeks and Fausto Carmona one more start away from being deported out of Cleveland, the Indians could use some help. The Indians aren't great defensively, so getting a guy who can strike people out would be smart.

Philadelphia Phillies: With Joe Blanton and now Roy Oswalt going down, all of a sudden the Phillies have a couple of holes in their rotation. Bedard wouldn't be such a bad replacement for either of the above pitchers.

Cincinnati Reds: The Reds planned starting five have spent as many days in the minors than they have pitching for the Reds this season, so they could clearly use another starter. Bedard would be an upgrade over Homer Bailey, Mike Leake, or even Edinson Volquez at this point.

Arizona Diamondbacks: Zach Duke clearly isn't the answer at the back of the Diamondbacks' rotation. Bedard would be the perfect addition to the Arizona staff. He would also be going to a team in contention, but who's fans care more about Bingo than they do about the Diamondbacks, so the destination would suite him well.

Colorado Rockies: The Rockies have been really mediocre since their hot April and their starting pitching has been the main reason for their mediocrity. The Rockies won't be able to overtake the San Francisco Giants unless they get better pitching or acquire better pitching. Bedard would be a good start.

*Contract details are courtesy of Cot's Baseball Contracts.