The end came without tears, fanfare or publicity in the Class A California League of all places for Erik Bedard, the pitcher who was acquired by the Mariners in a trade for Adam Jones and Chris Tillman, among others, just before the 2008 season.

Share story

HOUSTON – The end came without tears, fanfare or publicity in the Class A California League, of all places, for Erik Bedard.

The Twitter feed of the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, the Dodgers’ Class A affiliate, made the announcement as just another transaction. The tweet read: “ROSTER MOVES: LHP Erik Bedard has retired. RHP Luis Meza placed on DL. RHP Johnathan Richy activated from DL. RHP Joe Broussard to Rancho.”

Bedard had been trying to recover from a lat strain suffered in spring training.

Of course, there was no media to ask him questions about his decision — just the way he likes it.

It may have been just another minor league roster move in a baseball season filled with thousands of them.

Still, the news that the talented, but enigmatic, left-hander had finally walked away from the game after 11 big league seasons is still notable, particularly in Seattle.

Bedard made 230 starts and 11 relief appearances in his career, posting a 71-82 record and 3.99 ERA

Those numbers included three forgettable seasons with the Mariners. But the circumstances that brought him to Seattle cannot be forgotten, no matter how much Mariners fans would like it be erased from their memory.

His retirement brings no closure to that fateful trade before the 2008 season. Just a different reminder instead of clicking on MLB Network each night and seeing the highlights of Adam Jones or Chris Tillman flash across the screen, picking at the unhealing wound.

The exact parameters of the trade may have been forgotten over the years. After Seattle went 88-73 in 2007 and finished second in the American League West, then-general manager Bill Bavasi made it his quest to acquire another frontline starting pitcher to couple with Felix Hernandez in the rotation. He believed it would put the Mariners over the top. He set his sights on Bedard, who went 13-5 with a 3.16 ERA with 221 strikeouts in 182 innings in 2007.

To get Bedard, Bavasi gave up Jones, the Mariners’ top prospect; Tillman, who was the Mariners’ minor league starting pitcher of the year in 2007; lefty reliever George Sherrill; reliever Kam Mickolio; and left-handed pitcher Tony Butler.

It seemed to be a hefty price for Bedard, who had never thrown more than 200 innings in a season and had free agency looming in two years.

But Bavasi believed it was a move that would elevate the Mariners from rebuilding to the postseason.

“Now, we think we’re kind of through with that and that it’s time to go out and try to win,” he said at the time.

It didn’t happen. Bedard seemed uncomfortable as the No. 1 pitcher and in the spotlight. He bristled with the media and was hampered by injuries. And fans even began to question his toughness and commitment after routinely exiting games after 90 pitches.

The season was an epic failure, resulting in 101 losses. Bavasi was fired midseason and took a few parting shots at Bedard in his final news conference. But his trade couldn’t be undone.

Bedard made a total of 46 starts in a Mariners uniform from 2008 to 2011, missing all of 2010 because of shoulder surgery. He posted a 15-14 record with a 3.31 ERA before being traded to the Red Sox.

Meanwhile, Jones immediately became the Orioles’ everyday center fielder in 2008 and blossomed into a four-time all-star and Gold Glove winner. He’s also assumed the duties as the face of the franchise. He was a prominent figure and spokesman for the team during the riots in Baltimore earlier this season. Tillman made his big-league debut in 2009 and has made 130 major-league starts. He was an all-star in 2013 and went 13-6 last season with 3.34 ERA.

The trade went from bad to worse to catastrophic with each passing season. For an organization with a history of bad trades (they can be rattled off from memory like a dishonor roll), it’s the still the worst. Yes, worse than when Woody Woodward gave up Jason Varitek and Derek Lowe for Heathcliff Slocumb. Worse than Bavasi giving up Asdrubal Cabrera for Eduardo Perez and later sending Shin Soo-Choo to the Indians for Ben Broussard. And worse than current GM Jack Zduriencik trading Michael Pineda for Jesus Montero or sending Doug Fister and David Pauley to the Tigers for four players, of whom only Charlie Furbush remains.

The Bedard trade beats them all. It’s become a cautionary tale for general managers.

The sum of Bedard’s career isn’t without merit. To have that type of longevity despite numerous injuries and surgeries speaks to his talent. But in Seattle, those accomplishments don’t matter. He’s still the embodiment of all that went wrong in those fateful seasons and a representation of not what was gained, but was lost.