The Pirates and right-hander Daniel Bard have agreed to a minor league contract, per reports from MLB.com’s Adam Berry (links to Twitter) and the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s Rob Biertempfel (Twitter link).
Bard, now 30 years of age, was once a lights-out setup man for the Red Sox but has pitched just a single inning in the Major Leagues dating back to 2013 due to a landslide of injuries resulting in severe control problems and, ultimately, surgery to relieve throacic outlet syndrome. Bard has been largely absent from baseball since 2013, throwing just 17 1/3 innings across multiple minor league levels, the Puerto Rican Winter League and the aforementioned one inning with Boston.
From 2009-11, Bard was outstanding, however, posting a 2.88 ERA in a considerably more hitter-friendly era than today’s game even a few short years later. That 2.88 ERA, when adjusted for the league and Bard’s home of Fenway Park, resulted in a 154 ERA+, indicating that he was 54 percent better than a league-average pitcher. He averaged 9.7 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9 in that time to go along with a well-above-average ground-ball rate and a fastball that averaged better than 97 mph.
Bard told Berry that the Pirates’ history of reclamation projects with pitchers made Pittsburgh an appealing destination for him as he seeks to revive his career. “They seem to help out the Pirates a lot, and the Pirates seem to help them out a lot,” said Bard of pitchers that have revitalized their careers with the Bucs. Among the most notable names to have turned their careers around in Pittsburgh in recent years are A.J. Burnett, Francisco Liriano and Edinson Volquez.