Erik Bedard won’t have much time to make an impact before the trade deadline

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The Mariners were just 2 1/2 games out of first place as recently as last Tuesday, but have dropped five straight to fall 7 1/2 back in the American League West. It’s probably safe to call them sellers at this point, but their most valuable trade chip isn’t ready to get back on the mound.

Erik Bedard was placed on the disabled list with a sprained left knee at the end of June. It appeared to be a minor injury at the time, especially considering his past arm issues, but Mariners manager Eric Wedge told Larry LaRue of the Tacoma News Tribune yesterday that the left-hander will need to miss at least one more start following the All-Star break.

“We’ll get him throwing on flat ground a few more times, give him a couple of bullpens and he’ll be ready,” Wedge said. “Blake (Beavan) will get that next start in Erik’s spot.”

This means that Bedard will have a maximum of two starts before the trade deadline to prove he’s healthy. And that’s assuming he’ll be ready to start during a series against the Red Sox from July 22-24. Yes, the Mariners could still deal him in August, but it’s a bit more complicated and they’d be less likely to get something significant in return.

Bedard didn’t throw a pitch in the majors in 2010, but has a 3.00 ERA and 1.11 WHIP across 15 starts this season. He has an excellent 85/26 K/BB ratio over 90 innings of work.

Tanner Scheppers leaves Cactus League game with lower core injury

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Rangers’ bullpen candidate Tanner Scheppers left Friday’s Cactus League game with pain in his “lower half,” according to reports by Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. The specifics of the right-hander’s injury have yet to be determined, but he was accompanied by the athletic trainer when he exited the game and is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Saturday.

Scheppers, 30, has a long history of elbow and knee injuries. He missed all but 8 2/3 innings of the 2016 season after undergoing a procedure to repair torn articular cartilage in his left knee. While he appeared healthy enough through his first seven appearances this spring, he failed to impress with three runs, five walks and six strikeouts over 7 2/3 innings with the club.

Should Scheppers find himself on the disabled list for another lengthy stay, MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan speculates that his absence could clear some room in the bullpen for Rule 5 draft pick and fellow righty Mike Hauschild. Hauschild, 27, has dealt seven runs, five walks and 15 strikeouts through 17 1/3 innings in camp.

Report: Jose Ramirez close to four-year extension with Indians

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Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan reports that third baseman Jose Ramirez is finalizing a four-year extension with the Indians. The deal is said to be worth north of $30 million, and may crest $50 million if all options are exercised. While the extension won’t take effect until the 2018 season, it guarantees Ramirez a $26 million sum with two options worth $11 and $13 million and will give the Indians control of the infielder through the 2023 season.

Ramirez, 24, is entering his fifth season in the Indians’ organization. He posted career-high numbers during his first full season in the majors, slashing .312/.363/.461 with 11 home runs, 22 stolen bases and 4.8 fWAR in 2016. He’s projected to have a strong follow-up season at the plate and will likely see some time at second base as Jason Kipnis works his way back from a shoulder injury.

Although 2016 only showcased the beginning of Ramirez’s success with the club, FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman says it’s a standard move for Cleveland to “sign their stars early,” and indicates that Ramirez was rumored to want the deal. Jeff Todd of MLB Trade Rumors adds that the extension will keep Ramirez under club control through three arbitration-eligible years and one year of potential free agency.