Fear not, Bavasi confident in trade
Mariners GM, eyeing playoffs, says Bedard deal had to be made
SEATTLE -- Seattle Mariners general manager Bill Bavasi had the motivation, the opportunity and just the right quality players to make Friday's blockbuster six-player deal involving Baltimore left-hander Erik Bedard.What he didn't have was a choice. In Bavasi's mind, this was a deal that had to get done, despite the fact that his reputation, his job security and the club's long-term future are riding on it. He brought in a top starter in Bedard in exchange for many of the system's best prospects, including the plum, outfielder Adam Jones. "We could have held on to all of our chips," Bavasi said, "and what you might be looking at at the end of the season is, 'They won 88 games, they're a nice young team, they're fun to watch, they hustle, but they're one starting pitcher short.' " Instead, he believes, the Mariners now have a formidable one through five starting corps with Bedard likely leading it off. He'll be followed by young Felix Hernandez, recently signed free agent Carlos Silva, Miguel Batista and Jarrod Washburn. Bavasi said it's easy to go from a lousy team to an 88-win team as the Mariners finished last season. "But going from 88 on, that's a little tougher," he said. "To do that you have to make some bold moves. At 88 wins, if you don't make a bold move, there's a good chance you can go back to 80." Bavasi said that many clubs are reluctant to trade their best young players. He was not afraid, although, he admitted, "we had to do some hard thinking. It wasn't very enjoyable. My background is in player development, so I fall in love with these guys. I always have." When Baltimore put together its wish list, general manager Andy MacPhail zeroed in only on the cream. While he didn't get all he wanted, he got a collection of four strong pitchers: prospects Chris Tillman, Kam Mickolio and Tony Butler along with Mariners dependable setup guy George Sherrill. But Bavasi hung on to Brandon Morrow, Jeff Clement and Wladimir Balentien. "Their goal was to come away with two Adam Jones-type guys. Our goal was to give them one and some other numbers," Bavasi said. "They did a good job. They came up with the right names after Jones. Those weren't names I came up with. Those were names they came up with.
"We were concerned about giving up too much. That's why we moved only one of those guys. We didn't move Morrow, Clement or Balentien, all those players they were annoyed that we wouldn't move."But for many fans, just moving Jones represents a major gamble. He could turn into a superstar for the next decade while the club has the rights to Bedard for just two years -- pending talks of an extension. Bavasi was ready to take that risk if it means Bedard can help this club return to the postseason for the first time since 2001. Bavasi has done this kind of deal in the past. When he was general manager with the Anaheim Angels in 1995, he made a trading deadline deal with the Chicago White Sox for pitcher Jim Abbott. "I traded four can't-miss guys who you can't remember now," he said. He's not saying that Baltimore did the same thing. In fact, he believes Jones will be a quality player, Sherrill is already and Bavasi believes at least two of the other three pitchers have a chance to be significant big league contributors. "But our system developed a top-of-the-rotation guy," he said. "Bedard is the result of our farm system. That's the result of our farm guys finding players that Baltimore wanted." Now, after this trade, what shape is the farm system in? "I think it's still in very healthy shape," he said. "The fact that we're still able to talk about those guys [Morrow, Clement, Balentien] after having made this deal, it's a pretty healthy system."
Bob Sherwin is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.