Here we go again...
A reliable poster on the Orioles Hangout message board relayed a troubling story about Erik Bedard from his contact yesterday evening. It went like this...
During the offseason the Orioles approached Bedard and his agent with a long term deal. I dont have the specifics of the deal, but apparently it was a lowball offer. Duquette was bascially the puppet in the whole thing because Bedards people countered and Duq had to check with Angelos to see if it worked. It took so much time, Bedard said F it and said to the his agent that he will play out his contract and and any long term deal they offered he will shoot it down. It has to be REALLY good for him to consider he said. He isnt happy with how the negotiations went.
You don't need to have a photographic memory to remember what happened to the recent players who'd have been lowballed by the Orioles. Palmeiro and Mussina both took the fastest train out of town. Guerrero and Delgado would have probably gone to play in Japan rather than sign here. Derek Lee, who was negotiating an extension with the Orioles after a trade had been agreed to between the Orioles and Marlins also said "No thanks", and BJ Ryan went to Toronto. But hey, their dollar is almost as good as ours now.
Will Bedard be the next to leave? If you're into reading tea leaves, then yes. Don't go rushing out to purchase an Erik Bedard jersey. Studying Bedard from a distance, it doesn't appear that he's attached to Baltimore. Yes, he probably does enjoy not having a huge spotlight on him, the way he would if he were pitching in Boston or New York. He loves giving interviews as much as High Pitch Eric on the Howard Stern Show loves dead fish.
But Bedard probably wants to play closer to home, which would be Toronto, since his hometown of Navan is about a 4.5 hour drive away. And with Toronto recently breaking open the checkbook, you don't have to strain your brain much to imagine Bedard in a Blue Jays jersey in a couple of years.
So here's what the Orioles should do.
1. Continue to work with Bedard. Show them that they've changed and that Angelos is not calling the shots anymore. After all, isn't this what the Andy MacPhail hiring meant? Bedard is special, so blow him away with an offer. $60 million over 4 years sounds about right for a pitcher who is quickly becoming one of the most dominating lefties in the game.
2. If he still rejects any offer to sign with the Orioles, trade him next year if they're out of contention. The Indians did something similar with Bartolo Colon in the 2002 season and they helped rebuild their team by making that trade and getting Brandon Phillips, Cliff Lee and Grady Sizemore from the Montreal Expos.
But whatever you do, don't let him play out his contract and have him walk the way we've done so many times in the past. Yes, we did get draft picks for letting veteran players leave in free agency, but that's a crap shoot. Trading for advanced prospects is a much safer bet.
I for one, wish we didn't have to deal with this situation at all. Bedard has become the ace the Orioles have desperately needed ever since Mussina left and now it looks like we'll lose Bedard too. But these are the Orioles we're talking about.
It just comes with the territory.