Veteran LHP Erik Bedard hasn't done much well the past two seasons, going a combined 11-26, 4.78 for the Pirates and Astros.

But the Rays took the low-risk gamble of signing the 34-year-old to a minor-league deal Friday to see what he has left as they seek a fifth starter in Jeremy Hellickson's absence and potential bullpen help.

"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," executive VP Andrew Friedman said. "He'll come in to compete for the fifth starter's job. I don't know how that will transpire. And he's also a candidate to pitch out of the pen."

Bedard was an effective starter for the Orioles, winning 15 games in 2006 and 13 in 2007. But shoulder issues after a trade to Seattle derailed his career, and he has not been the same.

RHP Jake Odorizzi had been considered the favorite to replace Hellickson, who is projected to be out until at least mid May after right elbow surgery. The other primary candidate is RHP Alex Colome, who said the right elbow issue that sidelined him from late June on is healed.