As Erik Bedard passed his physical and finalized an incentive-laden, one-year deal with the Seattle Mariners on Saturday, his agent confirmed that the left-handed pitcher gave plenty of thought about a reunion with the Orioles.
"He was seriously considering it," Mark Pieper said. "Baltimore is one of the teams that we went pretty far in our discussions with. They were one of the finalists."
Bedard, who had left shoulder surgery in August and won't be ready for the start of the season, agreed to a one-year deal worth $1.5 million with an $8 million mutual option for 2011. His contract includes roster bonuses and other incentives based on innings pitched and games started that could increase his 2010 earnings to as much as $8.5 million.
The Orioles' offer was very similar to what Bedard accepted from the Mariners, but it wasn't enough.
"I got the sense that they were really trying to find the best place for him for a year. I don't think it had much to do with how much. It probably had to do with where," Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail said. "But I did get the sense that we were legitimately in it the whole way."
Pieper said 17 teams expressed interest in Bedard in some fashion
"Obviously, the No. 1 factor was just being comfortable with the rehab process and the people he has already started this with," Pieper said.
The American League East is not a popular destination for pitchers on one-year deals, but Pieper downplayed that as a main factor in the decision.
"Some people may be afraid of that division, but Erik has done that," Pieper said. "He's pitched against those teams. He's had success in [ Camden Yards]. The Orioles are making some good moves, and he was intrigued. They were on a short list of teams that he considered signing with, and Andy was great through the whole thing. He worked to try to understand Erik's health situation. He didn't push, but at the same time he understood that there was a certain timeframe where we were dealing with to make a decision."
Bedard, whom the Orioles sent to the Mariners in February 2008 for center fielder Adam Jones, reliever George Sherrill and pitching prospects Tony Butler, Kam Mickolio and Chris Tillman, went 11-7 with a 3.24 ERA for Seattle over the past two seasons, but he was limited to just 30 starts. Bedard, 30, had surgery in August to repair an inflamed bursa and a torn labrum in his left shoulder.
Pieper said the surgery requires at least an eight- to nine-month recovery period, putting Bedard's return likely in May at the earliest. Bedard has been playing catch for several weeks, but "until he starts letting it go, you never really know," Pieper said.
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