Erik Bedard knocked around in audition for possible trade

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We learned earlier this week that the Red Sox and Yankees were expected to have scouts in attendance for Erik Bedard’s first start back from the disabled list last night against the Rays. Well, let’s just say he didn’t help his trade value at all.

Bedard, who missed a month with a sprained left knee, was smoked for five runs over just 1 1/3 innings as part of an 8-0 loss. The southpaw threw just 28 out of 57 pitches for strikes while walking four and striking out two. He hadn’t allowed more than three runs in 12 consecutive outings prior to going on the disabled list, so we can probably chalk this up to rust. Still, pretty bad timing.

Alex Speier of WEEI.com reports that the Mariners appeared to be waiting until after Friday’s start to advance talks with interested teams. While Friday’s results could very well hurt their negotiating position, it doesn’t necessarily mean that teams will drop out of the bidding. For what it’s worth, ESPN’s Jim Bowden reported early this morning that the Red Sox are still discussing a deal with Dodgers for Hiroki Kuroda, so they are busy evaluating the alternatives.

UPDATE: Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that Boston’s interest in Hiroki Kuroda increased following Bedard’s shaky start last night.

James Paxton will “nerd out big-time” to stay healthy next year

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To the surprise of, well, very few, the Mariners didn’t make the cut for the postseason this year. While they threw their hats in the ring for a wild card berth, their pitching staff just couldn’t stay healthy, from the handful of pitchers who contracted season-ending injuries in spring training to Felix Hernandez‘s shoulder bursitis to structural damage in Hisashi Iwakuma‘s right shoulder. Left-hander James Paxton missed 79 days with a lingering head cold, strained left forearm and pectoral strain. Heading into the 2018 season, the lefty told MLB.com’s Greg Johns that he plans to “nerd out big-time” in order to prepare for a healthy, consistent run with the club.

So far, Johns reports, that entails a new diet and workout program, hot yoga sessions and blood testing. “I just think there’s more I can do,” Paxton said. “I haven’t done the blood testing before. Finding out if there’s something I don’t know about myself. It’s just about learning and trying to find what works for me.”

When healthy, the 28-year-old southpaw was lights-out for the Mariners. He helped stabilize the front end of the rotation with a 12-5 record in 24 starts and supplemented his efforts with a 2.98 ERA, 2.4 BB/9 and 10.3 SO/9 through 136 innings. Despite taking multiple trips to the disabled list, he built up 4.6 fWAR — the most wins above replacement he’s compiled in any season of his career to date. Had he not been felled by a pectoral injury in mid-August — one that came with a five-week trip to the disabled list — the club might have been been able to make a bigger push for the playoffs.

Of course, even if Paxton manages to stay healthy next season, the Mariners still have the rest of the rotation to worry about. They cycled through 17 starters in 2017 and tied the 2014 Rangers with 40 total pitchers over the course of the season. Per GM Jerry Dipoto, their top four starters (Paxton, Hernandez, Iwakuma, and Tommy John candidate Drew Smyly) only contributed 17% of total innings pitched, just a tad below the 40% average. Finding adequate big league arms and compensating for injured aces (both current and former) will be tough. Still, getting a healthy, dominant Paxton back on the mound for 30+ starts would be a huge get for the team — whether or not the postseason is in their future next year.