Bedard signs with Pirates; Mariners still waiting

Mariners manager Eric Wedge (front and center) is flanked by all 14 AL skippers during a photo shoot Wednesday at the Winter Meetings in Dallas. (Greg Johns/MLB.com)

Pretty slow morning, news-wise for the Mariners anyway, from the Winter Meetings here in Dallas.

Former Mariners pitcher Erik Bedard did just sign a one-year, $4.5 million deal with the Pirates. Not bad for Bedard, who earned $4.125 million last year from Seattle and Boston on an incentive-based deal that paid $1 million in base salary and $3.125 in bonuses for meeting various innings and games pitched levels.

Bedard was an interesting case in Seattle, his big-time talent mostly lost in an injury-plagued tenure that saw him go 15-14 with a 3.31 ERA in 46 games over four seasons. He didn’t fare well in his brief stint in Boston after getting traded last July 31, but maybe he’ll find a return to comfort in the smaller-market Pirates situation.

The Mainers, meanwhile, continue their own search for a veteran pitcher and utility infielder, as well as — yes — a big bat that everybody wants to be Prince Fielder. But the whole Fielder situation figures to hang first on what happens with Albert Pujols as Fielder’s agent, Scott Boras, no doubt is counting on teams that don’t get Pujols suddenly becoming more interested in his client.

All the conjecture that no teams seem to be stepping up big for Fielder can all change in a hurry. My presumption is that — much like with Pujols — there’ll suddenly be a team or two jumping in with both feet when it comes down to crunch time.

Where will that leave the Mariners? Most likely with a decision as to whether they want to go past the threshold they feel comfortable with in terms of length of contract and cash. But we’ll see. The Fielder situation has been different so far, but Boras has a way of creating bidding wars and Fielder is too good a player for teams to stay away from if they feel they have a chance at the end.

Meantime, they held the annual manager’s luncheon today at the Hilton Anatole hotel and Mariners skipper Eric Wedge broke bread — and some chicken and mac and cheese — with a few of us from the Seattle media.

Afterward, the MLB folks gathered all 30 managers for two group photos — one of the AL and one of the NL. It’s pretty cool to see all the assorted skippers in one spot, so I included the AL photo above.

Eventually the Mariners will have some news to report. At a minimum, they’ll emerge tomorrow with someone from the Rule 5 draft, where they have the third pick. I suspect they’ll sign a player or two as well before they depart. But if not, the table will have been set for further deals that no doubt will come when more dominoes start to fall across baseball in the coming week or so.

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