Rays sign veteran starter Bedard to Minors deal
Lefty will compete for spot in Tampa Bay rotation with Hellickson out until May
PORT CHARLOTTE -- The Rays have signed veteran left-hander Erik Bedard to a Minor League contract with an invitation to Major League camp.
Bedard, 34, spent last season with the Astros, going 4-12 with a 4.59 ERA. He made 26 appearances as a starter, which marked his highest total since starting 28 games in 2007 with the Orioles.
"He's a guy that we've liked in the past, and we're anxious to get him in here and be around him more," Rays executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said. "He'll come in to compete for the fifth starter job. I don't know how that will transpire, but he's also a candidate to pitch out of the 'pen."
Though his velocity has dipped over the past few seasons, with his fastball now averaging 89 mph, Bedard would add some needed depth to the Rays' rotation. The team will begin the season without young right-hander Jeremy Hellickson, who had offseason elbow surgery.
The Rays head into camp looking to fill the No. 5 spot in their rotation, a vacancy created by Hellickson's right elbow surgery to "remove loose bodies" that will keep the right-hander sidelined until May.
Bedard was expected to report Friday. His addition brings the number of players in camp to 64.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.