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Bedard Nets Pair of Young Hitters

Erik Bedard
This post is a day late, and I apologize, but better late than never. I probably don't even have time tonight, but I can only wait so long to say something. No need to worry - I was with good baseball friends when the trade deadline came and went, so I knew immediately. I just didn't have time to write immediately.

Before going much further, I probably should say what this post is all about. The Red Sox acquired Erik Bedard from the Mariners for Chieh-Hsien Chiang and Trayvon Robinson, both 23-year-old outfielders. Boston had to acquire Robinson from the Dodgers, so this is a three-team deal.

We probably all have a pretty decent idea what the Mariners just gave up. When Bedard is healthy, he is a darn good starter. Sometimes he racks up high pitch counts, but he typically is tough to square up. When Bedard's curveball is really working, he can be particularly tough. Erik certainly had a strong comeback campaign, and this trade reflects that. He has been untradeable for a few years, and now a contender wanted him to bolster their staff.

The inclusion of Trayvon Robinson says plenty about the deal. Clearly, the Red Sox wanted Bedard rather bad, because it is a bit of a hassle to pull an additional deal just to get another done. It also says something about how much the Mariners valued Bedard. They clearly had a type of player, or list of specific players, that would get the deal done. They did not budge until they got what they wanted. Otherwise, this would not have involved a third team.

While the Mariners rotation the rest of the year is problematic without Bedard and Doug Fister (not to mention Michael Pineda and whatever innings limit he should be fast approaching), this was a deal worth making. The Mariners are out of contention, so this year is about 2012 already, and Bedard was an impending free agent.

Another quick note before breaking down the prospects the Mariners got: I doubt Bedard's bad start days before the trade hurt his value. Believe it or not, I think it helped much more than it hurt. Teams needed to see him flash his normal velocity, and a curveball with bite. He exhibited both, but lacked control. That's something that can be attributed to rust, especially with no rehab outings. I think seeing Bedard take a rusty, but healthy, arm to the mound gave scouts the confidence they needed to give Bedard a thumbs up.

The real reason this trade was one worth making was thanks to the prospects that came back.

Chieh-Hsien Chiang has erupted in AA this year. He has taken a quantum leap forward, seemingly out of nowhere. However, as I listened to the post-game radio show in the car yesterday, Jack Zduriencik revealed that he is a diabetic, and he overhauled his diet this offseason. Reports are that the new diet has greatly improved his energy. It seems reasonable to assume that some of his improvement is due to this significant change. If Chiang continues to rake at the rate he has, he will be a steal. The rub is that there is just a track record of about four months of elite production to date.

Trayvon Robinson is an athletic outfielder that Z revealed he knew of coming out of high school, five years ago. A stalky switch-hitter, Robinson has already slugged 26 home runs in AAA this year, though without too many doubles in a band box of a ballpark. His stolen bases have declined too, perhaps a sign that his body has thickened with additional power. Regardless, Treyvon has some speed to go with the power. He strikes out too much to feel real good about his power and average translate in the majors, but we probably are not far away from seeing his first MLB at-bat.

Neither Chiang nor Robinson are can't-miss prospects, but they are still prospects. They have track records and tools that suggest they could become contributers at the Major League level. Trading away a couple months of Bedard was certainly worth a shot at a decade of combined production from the pair they got back.

This trade will never look bad for the Mariners, and has the potential to look very lop-sided in their favor. Trades like these are what maintain my faith in Jack Zduriencik. In February, Erik Bedard was a total wild card. Now, the Mariners have two young hitters to show for signing him. That's the definition of turning nothing into something, and it's the type of trick that helps teams climb out of division basements.