The Dodgers have added some starting pitching insurance with the signing of Erik Bedard to a minor league contract, per Ken Gurnick of MLB.com. The deal, per Gurnick, comes with an invitation to major league camp in spring training.
Bedard was 4-6 with a 4.76 ERA in 17 games for Tampa Bay in 2014, including 15 starts, with 64 strikeouts and 29 walks in 75⅔ innings. The left-hander was signed to a minor league deal last year by Andrew Friedman's Rays, and made his first appearance for Tampa Bay on April 13. He lasted on the roster until he was released in August.
Bedard, who turns 36 in March, hasn't been the same since left shoulder surgery in 2009 that cost him his 2010 season as well. Bedard had a 131 ERA+ from 2006-2009 in 91 starts, with more strikeouts (554) than innings (542⅓), including a career-high 221 punchouts in 2007, when he was 13-5 with a 3.16 ERA for the Orioles and finished fifth in the American League Cy Young balloting.
But since shoulder surgery, Bedard is 20-41 with a 4.47 ERA, an 87 ERA+, in four years, with 445 strikeouts and 208 walks in 481⅔ innings.
After an assortment of injuries throughout his career — eight trips to the disabled list from 2003-2010 for, in order, Tommy John surgery, a strained medial collateral ligament in his left knee, a strained right oblique, left hip inflammation, left shoulder impingement, left shoulder inflammation, and left shoulder surgery — the good news for Bedard is that he has been relatively healthy the last four seasons.
Bedard has become a different pitcher the last few years. At his peak in 2006-2007 he put up ground ball rates of 48.8 percent nd 47.9 percent, and never below 40.3 percent in a season from 2005-2012. But the last two seasons —2013 with the Astros and 2014 in Tampa - have seen Bedard's ground ball rate plummet to 35.4 percent. As a result his home run rate has increased, allowing one home run every 45 plate appearances through 2012 and one homer per 36 plate appearances the last two years.
With Hyun-Jin Ryu limited to just 152 innings in 2014, Brandon McCarthy averaging 154 innings in his last four years, and Brett Anderson not reaching even 45 innings in a season since 2011, the Dodgers starting rotation could use all the ready depth it can get.
Bedard joins a group including Joe Wieland, Mike Bolsinger, Carlos Frias and Zach Lee providing backup plans for the big club.
With the addition of Bedard, the Dodgers will have 18 non-roster invitees to big league camp in spring training. Pitchers and catchers report to Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Ariz. on Feb. 19.