DANIEL BARD, RIGHT HANDED PITCHER
|Born: June 25, 1985
Drafted: 1st round, 28th overall, 2006 (Red Sox)
How Acquired: Minor league free agent
College: University of North Carolina
Agent: Relativity Baseball
WTM’S PIRATE PLAYER PROFILES
|Bard was considered a top flight pitching prospect when he was in high school, but he came from a wealthy family and went to college rather than sign with the Yankees. He didn’t dominate in college as expected, but the Red Sox still drafted him late in the first round. At the time, he featured a mid- to upper-90s fastball, as well as a serviceable slider. As a pro, he’s also thrown a sinker and a change. Bard struggled severely with control and mechanical issues in his first year, leading Boston to move him to the bullpen the next year. He reached the majors quickly after that and pitched very well as a setup man for three years, mainly on the strength of a fastball that averaged over 97 mph. In 2012, though, the Sox moved him to their rotation, and he lost velocity and, more importantly, lost the strike zone. Some of it may have been health-related, as he eventually had thoracic outlet surgery. He spent two years trying to regain his control before the Sox put him on waivers. The Cubs claimed him, but he’s pitched very little in the two years since then, not at all in 2015. Before his problems started, he dominated right- and left-handed batters more or less equally and was a mild groundball pitcher. The Pirates signed Bard to a minor league deal for 2016.
Bard signed too late to pitch in 2006. The Red Sox sent him to high A, in the uninviting environment of the California League, and he struggled badly through five starts, especially with the strike zone. After a break in extended spring training, he moved to the low A rotation and continued to struggle. Baseball America still rated him the Sox’ 19th best prospect after the season.
A move to the bullpen worked out, as Bard dominated, first in low A and then, for most of the season, in AA. Opponents managed only a .158 average against him over the two levels. He did have some control problems in AA. BA rated him the team’s fourth best prospect after the season.
Bard continued to dominate in AAA, fanning exactly half the batters he faced. The Red Sox called him up in mid-May and he pitched well for them the rest of the season, with only mild control problems.
Bard had an excellent season in a setup role, holding opponents to a 176/263/277.
Bard actually pitched better than in 2010, although it didn’t show up in his ERA or W/L record. Opponents managed only a 179/254/292 line against him. He was hurt by a low strand rate of 66.2%. His xFIP (3.05) was lower than the previous year’s (3.46).
The Red Sox made the disastrous decision to move Bard to the rotation. Whether it messed up his mechanics or something else happened, he lost the strike zone. He went from throwing 53.2% of his pitches for strikes the previous year to 48.9%. Boston sent him to AAA in June, then brought him back up at the end of August to pitch in relief, but if anything his problems worsened.
The Sox sent Bard to AA to start the season, called him up for two outings in late April, then sent him back down. He struggled with severe wildness into June, then went on the disabled list with an abdominal strain. He returned in August, but struggled in a few rehab outings and Boston designated him for assignment. The Cubs claimed him on waivers, but he never pitched for them and they non-tendered him in December. He signed a minor league deal for 2014 with Texas.
Bard had thoracic outlet surgery before the season and wasn’t able to pitch until June. He made four relief outings in low A, facing 18 batters and retiring only two, while walking nine and hitting seven. Texas released him afterward.
Bard signed a minor league deal with the Cubs during the winter. He was reportedly throwing 94-97 at the time, but he spent the entire season on the minor league disabled list.
The Pirates spent much of the 2015-16 off-season stockpiling hard-throwing, right-handed relievers, many of them with control and/or other issues. Bard is the most extreme example. It’s possible that his problems from 2012-15 resulted from the need for, and aftermath of, the thoracic outlet surgery, but the control and mechanical problems are long-standing in nature. Where he ends up, or whether he’s able to win a spot on a minor league roster at all, may depend on how much progress he shows in spring training.
|Signing Bonus: $1,550,000
MiLB Debut: 2007
MLB Debut: 5/13/2009
MiLB FA Eligible: 2016
MLB FA Eligible: N/A
Rule 5 Eligible: N/A
Added to 40-Man: 7/7/2013
Options Remaining: 1 (USED: 2012, 2013)
MLB Service Time:
|June 4, 2003: Drafted by the New York Yankees in the 20th round, 604th overall pick.
June 6, 2006: Drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the 1st round, 28th overall pick; signed on August 23.
May 10, 2009: Contract purchased by the Boston Red Sox.
September 1, 2013: Designated for assignment by the Boston Red Sox.
September 4, 2013: Claimed off waivers from the Boston Red Sox by the Chicago Cubs.
December 2, 2013: Became a free agent after being non-tendered by the Chicago Cubs.
January 1, 2014: Signed as a minor league free agent by the Texas Rangers.
June 18, 2014: Released by the Texas Rangers.
January 17, 2015: Signed as a minor league free agent by the Chicago Cubs.
November 6, 2015: Became a free agent.
January 6, 2016: Signed as a minor league free agent by the Pittsburgh Pirates.