In February of 2008, the Baltimore Orioles sold high, trading Erik Bedard to the Seattle Mariners for 5 players.
Seattle’s thinking at the time was adding a pitcher of Bedard’s caliber to form a 1-2 punch with Felix Hernandez would bring the Mariners back to the post-season. Seemed logical.
The Orioles meanwhile, were hoping to replenish its farm system as part of a long-extended rebuilding phase.
Baltimore didn’t just replenish its farm system. They struck gold. In the trade, the Orioles landed Adam Jones, George Sherill, and 3 prospects, one of which was a 19-year-old by the name Chris Tillman.
Bedard did not come close to living up to expectations with Seattle, and neither did the Mariners. The Mariners lost 101 games in 2008 as Bedard started just 15 games going 6-4 with a 3.67 ERA.
The 2009 season was better, with the Mariners winning 85 games, but Seattle finished in 3rd place in the AL West. Bedard went 5-3 in 15 starts with a 2.82 ERA. Those numbers aren’t atrocious, but his inability to consistently take the ball every 5 days was a killer.
Bedard did not pitch in 2010, and was eventually traded to the Red Sox at the 2011 trade deadline. Since then, Bedard has bounced around, having stops in Pittsburgh, Houston, and most recently Tampa Bay. After being traded away by the Orioles, Bedard never reached double-digit wins again.
As Bedard stumbled, the players Baltimore received in the deal would eventually become the teams new core, while the Mariners haven’t made the playoffs since 2001.
Adam Jones has blossomed into a star, making 4 all-star teams, winning 3-gold gloves, and a silver-slugger award since joining the Orioles. He’s established himself as one of the premier center-fielders in the sport.
Although it took longer than the Orioles hoped, Chris Tillman has emerged as the ace of Baltimore’s rotation. He went 16-7 in 2013, and this season is 12-5 with a 3.29 ERA.
The other 3 players in the deal didn’t pan-out, but if you would have told the Orioles that Adam Jones would turn into arguably the games best center-fielder, and Chris Tillman would one-day be the ace of the rotation, they would have signed up for that in a heartbeat.
With Jones solidified in the middle of Baltimore’s order, and Tillman solidified at the top of the rotation, the Orioles are set up to have a long-sustained run of success.
When the Orioles made this trade on that Winter day in 2008, no one could have imagined the impact it would have on the future success of the team.