With just hours remaining before the 2011 MLB trade deadline, the Boston Red Sox improved their pitching rotation by acquiring starting pitcher Erik Bedard from the Seattle Mariners as part of a three-way trade that also involved the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Red Sox also acquired Mariners minor league reliever Josh Fields in the deal. In exchange, Boston sent outfielder Chih-Hsien Chiang to Seattle, and also sent catcher Tim Federowicz, reliever Juan Rodriguez, and starting pitcher Stephen Fife to the Dodgers. The Dodgers, in turn, sent outfielder Trayvon Robinson to the Mariners. Other than Bedard, all the players involved in this complex deal are minor leaguers (source: MLB Trade Rumors).
The 32 year-old Bedard is an often-injured but usually effective starting pitcher who holds a 3.69 career ERA but missed all of 2010 with injuries and made just 30 combined starts in 2008 and 2009. For the Mariners this season, Bedard has pitched very well and holds a 3.45 ERA with 87 strikeouts in 91 1/3 innings (16 starts). His 4-7 win-loss record is mainly a result of the Mariners' dismal team performance, so joining the Red Sox could certainly help him turn that season record around. The move to Boston will mark Bedard's second time in the American League East, as he spent the first four full seasons (2004 to 2007) of his career as a member of the Baltimore Orioles. His presence should fortify the back end of a Boston rotation that has had sub-par season performances from starting pitchers Andrew Miller and John Lackey.
With Bedard, the Red Sox also landed minor league reliever Josh Fields, a 25 year-old former first round pick who has had several stops and starts throughout his professional career. Fields has tossed just 101 innings since being drafted out of Georgia in 2008 and has missed time with an array of injuries, some of which were attributed to his aggressive, somewhat herky-jerky delivery. When healthy, he has a mid-90s fastball and an impressive 12-to-6 curveball, but has had control issues at times. If he can avoid injuries and harness his stuff, Fields could be close to working as a middle reliever in the big leagues.
In return for Bedard, the Mariners landed a pair of outfield prospects in Boston's Chih-Hsien Chiang and Los Angeles' Trayvon Robinson. Chiang, a 23 year-old Taiwanese native, was not counted among Boston's top prospects by Baseball America, but he has raised interest by putting together an excellent 2011 season for Double-A affiliate Portland. In 87 games for the club this year, he has hit .338 with 36 doubles, 18 home runs, and 76 RBI. These numbers are a significant improvement over the .260 average with 11 home runs Chiang put in over a full 2010 campaign, so the M's are certainly hopeful that 2011 is no fluke for him.
Robinson, on the other hand, was ranked as the Dodgers' tenth best prospect entering this season and possesses top-notch athleticism and potential. The 23 year-old Los Angeles native is in his first season at Triple-A and appears to be adjusting nicely, as evidenced by his .293 batting average, .375 on-base percentage, and 26 home runs in 416 plate appearances. The home run power has been a recent revelation for Robinson, who was known more for his base-stealing ability (he had 38 last season and 47 the year before, but has just 9 so far in 2011) than his home run slugging (he had just 26 long balls in 2009 and 2010 combined). He looks very close to becoming a big leaguer and could soon be roaming the outfield for the Mariners.
The Dodgers, for giving up Robinson, received three Boston prospects: catcher Tim Federowicz and pitchers Juan Rodriguez and Stephen Fife. Federowicz, 23, was a seventh-round pick out of North Carolina in 2008 and has cemented himself as a solid behind-the-plate defender, though his bat hasn't kept up. Baseball America ranked him as Boston's 21st best prospect entering 2011 and the system's best defensive catcher, but he lacks serious home run power or any other dynamic hitting skills. This year for Double-A Portland, Federowicz has hit .275 with a .337 on-base mark, 20 doubles, and 9 home runs, all of which gives a pretty good indication of what to expect from him at the plate when he makes the big leagues.
Juan Rodriguez, a 22 year-old Dominican righthander, has only reached as high as Single-A Greenville and, this season, has not met the same success he experienced while pitching at lower minor league levels. Rodriguez worked as both a starter and reliever prior to 2011, and had some real success in short seasons of rookie ball, but has a 5.19 ERA in 59 innings (all relief) for Greenville this year. However, his live arm and big strikeout numbers hint at his potential, and he has 88 strikeouts in those 59 innings and has averaged 10.8 strikeouts-per-nine (K/9) in his professional career. If he can gain command of his wicked stuff, he could be a dynamic big league arm in a few seasons.
Stephen Fife, on the other hand, appears much closer to the majors and could soon be taking his turns in the Dodgers rotation. Fife, a 24 year-old who was drafted in the third round of the 2008 amateur draft, doesn't have the same explosive strikeout marks as Rodriguez but has gone 11-4 with a 3.66 ERA in 19 games (18 starts) for Double-A Portland this season. He has 70 strikeouts in 103 1/3 innings this year and has averaged just 6.9 K/9 as a pro, but he has good polish and could make the majors as more of a finesse hurler.
From a fantasy perspective, the move to the AL East may hurt some of Bedard's quantitative statistics (ERA, WHIP), but it will certainly give him more opportunities to post wins. Assuming he can pitch at the same high level and, of course, stay healthy, there's no reason to think that Bedard won't finish up 2011 the same way he started it, which makes him a valuable fantasy player. The other parts of this trade are not quite major league-ready, though Robinson is clearly the closest to joining a big league roster.