Pirates Sign Daniel Bard
In continuance of their curious signings this offseason, the Pirates have signed what may be the ultimate reclamation project in Daniel Bard. Many of you may remember Bard to be the dominating setup man for the Red Sox from 2009-2011, though health hasn’t been kind to him in recent years. At the end of his tenure in Boston in 2012, he was converted to a starting pitcher which produced disastrous results as he managed a 6.22 ERA and walked 43 batters in 59.1 innings.
Over the past 3 seasons, Bard has bounced to the Rangers and Cubs, where he could not recapture his former glory. In that time, he has struggled to regain his velocity and control, primarily due to various shoulder and elbow maladies., including major surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome in January 2014. It is not impossible for him to get back to being a Major League talent (see: Josh Beckett) but there are many questions. Given the amount of time he has been hurt, coupled with his lack of recent experience, this signing looks nothing more than a depth signing for Indianapolis.
If, and that is a big “if,” Bard can somehow reclaim his former velocity and control, he could be a formidable bullpen arm for the Pirates. However, that is an incredible long-shot, even for a team that has revamped the careers of Francisco Liriano, Edinson Volquez, Mark Melancon, and AJ Burnett. Since Bard’s deal does not include an invite to Spring Training, he will likely not be under the direct tutelage of miracle worker Ray Searage. It is possible Bard may be a long-term project (he is still only 30 after all) but he will have to not only regain his arm strength, but also his confidence to be a Major League contributor again.