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Mariners bring back Bedard with low-risk deal

Mariners bring back Bedard with low-risk deal

SEATTLE -- Looking for a veteran pitcher with potential upside to bolster their starting rotation next season, the Mariners brought back oft-injured left-hander Erik Bedard on Thursday with a one-year, non-guaranteed contract that general manager Jack Zduriencik calls a "win-win" for both sides.

Though most Major League contracts are fully guaranteed, the deal with Bedard is structured differently due to his history of arm troubles. In recent years, Bedard, 31, was one of the American League's better left-handers when healthy, but he missed all of last season following a pair of shoulder surgeries.

Zduriencik said Bedard and two different doctors say he's fully healthy now and the club expects him to compete for a starting job in Spring Training.

"If he's as healthy as he says and we hear that he is from professional people, then it would be an opportunity for Erik to compete in the rotation," Zduriencik said. "And if Erik becomes the Erik he's been in the past, it would be a nice little piece for all of us."

Bedard agreed to an incentive-based, non-guaranteed deal that will be largely voided if he doesn't make the team out of Spring Training.

Thus the Mariners get a potential quality starter at low risk, and they will see if Bedard can finally return to health. After being acquired from Baltimore in a trade for Adam Jones and others in 2008, Bedard went 11-7 with a 3.24 ERA for the Mariners in 2008-09 but managed only 30 starts in that span.

He underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum in 2009 and had season-ending surgery again last year to have a bone spur shaved down.

Bedard made three rehab starts prior to that surgery with the Arizona League Mariners and Tacoma Rainiers and opened Zduriencik's eyes with how well he was throwing until his shoulder flared up again.

The Mariners have AL Cy Young Award winner Felix Hernandez as the ace of their rotation, with Jason Vargas and Doug Fister returning for their second seasons as full-time starters. Rookie Michael Pineda will also be given a shot in Spring Training to make his case, but he has made only 12 starts at the Triple-A level and is just 22 years old.

Other potential starters include David Pauley and Luke French, who had varied levels of success last year while splitting time between Triple-A Tacoma and the Mariners.

The Mariners have been mentioned as having interest in free-agent starters Jeff Francis and Brandon McCarthy, two other veterans coming back from their own shoulder problems. They chose to bring back Bedard, but that doesn't mean their pitching is set.

"You never know what will happen from now to Spring Training," Zduriencik said. "As much as we like some of our young pitchers, they'll have to compete for jobs. You never have enough pitching. You always have setbacks. If I'm a player sitting out there looking at the Mariners, we do have opportunities here and we'll continue to pursue those and see where that takes us."

Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohns1 as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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