Starting pitcher Erik Bedard pitches against the Tampa Bay Rays at Safeco Field in Seattle, Washington. According to reports on July 31, 2011 Bedard was traded to the Boston Red Sox. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Erik Bedard, who you will remember from such articles as, "Who the Red Should Acquire: Erik Bedard", is now with the Boston Red Sox as part of a three-team trade involving the Mariners and the Dodgers. The Red Sox parted with catcher Tim Federowicz, Futures Game representative Chih-Hsien Chiang, Double-A hurler Stephen Fife, and Single-A reliever Juan Rodriguez. In addition to Bedard, Boston received former first round pick Josh Fields.
Fields has missed a lot of bats in his days in the Seattle minor league system, but he misses the strike zone just about as often. The 25-year-old right-hander has been a reliever from the start, Fields obviously has good stuff, as indicated by those strikeout rates, but unless he finds some semblance of control, he looks more like a project than anything. Nothing wrong with taking back a project, though -- for all the grief the Andrew Miller Experiment has been getting lately, it's even more shudder-inducing to imagine what would have gone down in Boston the last month-plus had they not taken the chance on him over the winter.
Bedard is a known quantity: if he is healthy, he will miss bats (8.8 strikeouts per nine in his last 255-1.3 innings), and while his control isn't amazing, he has plenty of moments where he is hard to beat. The main concern about him isn't whether or not he will perform, it is whether he will be around to do so. Injuries have been problematic for Bedard throughout much of his career, including 2011, and Boston is taking a risk here by acquiring him.
They didn't give up much quality, though, despite the quantity shown above. Tim Federowicz is a defense-first catcher that may develop some doubles power, but he is likely a backup in the majors. If he is a starter, chances are good it wouldn't be for a team like Boston. Fife is 24 years old and putting up uninspiring numbers at Double-A Portland as a starter. Chances are good he will need to convert to relief at some point, unless his lacking secondary stuff all of a sudden appears. Rodriguez has some intriguing numbers, as he is punching out 13.4 batters per nine for Greenville, but he also has control problems (just a 2.8 K/BB despite the unreal strikeout rate). He has been old for the level the whole way, and no one argues about his arm, but in the grand scheme of things, he isn't someone Boston is going to regret letting go.
Chih-Hsien Chiang is the only one of the group that gives this author some pause, but you have to give up something to get something. Chiang has been good, but never great in his minor league career, but in 2011 he exploded for Portland: .338/.399/.647 with 18 homers and 40 other extra-base hits.
This feels like Boston selling high on a prospect that another organization (in this case, Seattle) was intrigued by. Chiang is 23 and recently moved to the outfield, a place where Boston may not need any corner help for years if Josh Reddick and/or Ryan Kalish, two better prospects, work out, so making him something of a centerpiece for a team attempting to win now makes a lot of sense, given the limited track record.
Most importantly, Federowicz, Fife, and Chiang were all going to be Rule 5 eligible this upcoming winter, so Boston was moving pieces it was planning to lose anyway in exchange for help now. Except for Chiang, chances are good none of that group would have been protected on the 40-man, and with others like Drake Britton, Ryan Lavarnway, and Will Middlebrooks also eligible, there is no guarantee Chiang would have been safe, either. (Ben Buchanan covered this 40-man crunch in more detail earlier this week.)
All in all, this was a good trade for Boston, as they didn't give up anything they weren't planning on losing in the short-term anyway, and they received a high-risk, high-reward hurler in Bedard. If Buchholz ends up missing significant time the rest of the year, and Bedard can stay on the mound, the Red Sox and their fans will be very happy about a rare July 31 deal that has a major impact. Of course, that "if" is as large as Bedard's injury history. It's clearly a risk worth taking for a team using or considering Andrew Miller, Kyle Weiland, Tim Wakefield, and maybe even Alfredo Aceves as starters down the stretch, though.