CHICAGO -- The Red Sox, who had been on the prowl for a starting pitcher all week, got one with roughly a minute to spare before Sunday's 4 p.m. ET non-waiver Trade Deadline, landing veteran lefty Erik Bedard from the Seattle Mariners.
The Red Sox traded four Minor Leaguers in two separate deals. Catcher Tim Federowicz, pitcher Stephen Fife and righty Juan Rodriguez were sent to the Dodgers for outfielder Trayvon Robinson. The Red Sox then dealt Robinson and outfielder Chih-Hsien Chiang to the Mariners to complete the exchange for Bedard and Minor League reliever Josh Fields, a right-hander.
The transactions came the day after Boston had a tentative agreement to get Rich Harden from the A's, only to back out of that move because of concerns about the right-hander's health. That meant Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein had to seek out a last-minute alternative.
"A number of starters ended up not being moved, for one reason or another, and it wasn't clear we were going to be able to get anything done until the last minute again," Epstein said. "I don't know why that always happens to us. It was another last-minute deal, and we're really glad not to get just any starting pitcher but to get somebody who's capable of shutting down any lineup in the league when he's right. He's certainly capable of pitching big games for us down the stretch and somebody with enough talent to take the mound in the middle of the pennant race or in a playoff game if that opportunity presents itself."
Bedard, whom the Red Sox are familiar with from his years with the Orioles, also has a recent history of injuries.
The lefty was recently sidelined with a sprained left knee, but returned from the disabled list on Friday night, getting shelled by the Rays.
"We stayed on him and we scouted his first start back the other day in which he looked healthy," Epstein said. "Rusty, certainly, but healthy. We thought, based on the looks from this year, his stuff was coming back -- he was throwing well. He looks like someone who can really help us."
Bedard, 32, has made 16 starts, going 4-7 with a 3.45 ERA. In 91 1/3 innings, he has allowed 77 hits and opponents are hitting just .226 against him.
"In April, even though the results weren't great, the reports on his stuff were encouraging," Epstein said. "Obviously, in May and June, he was throwing very well and getting hitters out consistently from the left side and right side. Really started to look like one of the better left-handed pitchers in the league again, so we were certainly on him then, and then he ended up missing the month with the knee injury."
Though the Red Sox already own the best record in the American League East at 66-40, they were happy to get another weapon for the stretch run.
"He's got great stuff," said Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia. "We're really excited to have him. He's going to help us a ton."
"He's nasty," Red Sox third baseman Kevin Youkilis said of Bedard earlier this week. "I think he owns me. When he was pitching against us, when he was healthy, I don't know if we beat him -- he beat up on us. He's good. He has a great slider. When he's healthy and he locates pitches, he's a pretty remarkable pitcher."
With the return of Clay Buchholz (back injury) uncertain and Daisuke Matsuzaka long since gone for the season, the Red Sox had been actively searching for some rotation depth to help back up co-aces Jon Lester and Josh Beckett. John Lackey, Tim Wakefield and Andrew Miller are the other pitchers currently in Boston's rotation.
Epstein said that at least for this week, nobody from the rotation will likely get bumped. The Red Sox don't have another off-day until Aug. 11.
Meanwhile, there is definitely concern about Buchholz, one of Boston's best pitchers. He hasn't pitched since June 16, and the uncertainty of when he will be able to come back played a big role in Boston's pursuit of Bedard.
"Clearly, we have some concern for Clay," said Epstein. "It's been almost a couple months now, which is longer than we expected it to be. We're still waiting for some more feedback and another opinion. I think we have a feel for what might be going on. Clay is seeing another expert [Monday] for his opinion, then we're all going to put our heads together early this week.
"Any time a pitcher of his caliber is not on the mound for a while, throws a side as he did on Monday but can't necessarily back it up with another side, get out there on a rehab assignment, there's some concern. We think we're in the process of getting to the bottom of it. We're all going to put our heads together early this week and talk about it with Clay before we discuss it publicly."
Two other pitchers the Red Sox had targeted -- Ubaldo Jimenez and Hiroki Kuroda -- could not be obtained. Jimenez was dealt from the Rockies to the Indians, while Kuroda informed the Dodgers he would not waive his no-trade clause. Then came the Harden talks, which fell apart late Saturday night.
"We felt, looking at our club, like we certainly needed to add a starting pitcher," said Epstein. "If nothing else, for depth purposes, but we felt like that was the best way we could impact the club right now. The trading deadline is July 31, and besides the non-waiver trades, you have to finish building your club that can hopefully take you through the last two months of the regular season, which are the toughest, and, if we're fortunate to get where we're going, in the postseason.
While there has been a lot of outside talk that Bedard, who isn't big on talking to the media, might have a hard time in the spotlight that is Boston, Epstein did enough research to think there's a fit.
"We're very comfortable with adding Erik to this ballclub," Epstein said. "More than anything, I think he's a really good fit for this club, and I think he's going to get along just fine with his teammates. He's very competitive when he's on the mound.
"Maybe he lets his arm do the talking a little bit, which is fine with us. I think based on what we know about him, he's going to fit in really well with his teammates and enjoy being a Red Sox in the middle of a pennant race. We're looking forward to him joining this club."
On Saturday, the Red Sox supplemented their bench depth with the acquisition of utility infielder Mike Aviles from the Royals.
Though one deadline passed on Sunday, the Red Sox could still make moves in August, and Epstein has done so several times in the past.
Going forward, deals involving players on the 40-man roster cannot be made unless the players already have cleared waivers. In other words, the player must be offered to the other teams in reverse order of the standings, and if he is claimed by one of the teams, he cannot be traded. The club that placed the player on waivers can either withdraw the request and keep the player, work out a trade for the player or simply let the player go to the claiming team.
As for the move that was made on Sunday, Red Sox pitching coach Curt Young is looking forward to working with Bedard.
"I kind of know Erik a little bit," said Young. "I was on an All-Star team with him in [Japan in] 2006. I know he goes about his business the right way, and I know health has been an issue for him. Hopefully, I can help him."
Manager Terry Francona should announce on Monday when he will slot Bedard into the rotation.
"He was tough on us," Francona said of Bedard. "He was real tough on us. He's a guy that's shown he can pitch in the American League East. The first half of this year, before he tweaked that knee, he was pretty solid. His stuff is good. We're excited. I'd like to talk to him first, but I know Theo talked to him and he sounded like he was excited. We'll build him back up. He just came off the DL on Friday, so we'll build him back up and get him in there."