The move should not come as a surprise for a Rockies team that already stated they would not be major sellers at the deadline, and have been rumored to be interested in extending Bard for months.
Bard, 37, was originally drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the first round of the 2006 draft. A top prospect and promising reliever, Bard made his major league debut with the Red Sox in 2009. In his rookie season, he made 49 appearances and pitched 49 1⁄3 innings with a 3.65 ERA. His 2010 campaign was a huge step forward, during which he had a 1.93 ERA over 73 appearances and 74 2⁄3 innings.
Bard was eventually out of baseball following difficult 2012 and 2013 seasons. He had succumbed to the dreaded “yips.”
Sports Illustrated quoted Bard in 2020:
“A year ago I was one of the best pitchers on the planet,” he thought. “Now I’m having a hard time playing catch, but my arm feels fine. Is my diet messed up? Do I have a brain tumor?”
Whatever was wrong with him was his fault, he decided. He had incredible talent and dedicated coaches. People expected him to be great, and he was capable of greatness. He should be great. He must not be trying hard enough. “You’re a failure,” he told himself.
“That’s the closest I’ve felt to losing my mind,” he says now.
Bard bounced around on minor league deals with several teams until he was out of baseball entirely. He eventually landed with the Arizona Diamondbacks as a mental skills coach and player mentor. He attempted a comeback in 2020, signing with the Rockies on a minor league deal. His contract was selected prior to the delayed Opening Day that July and he has remained on the Rockies’ active roster ever since.
Daniel Bard won the NL Comeback Player of the Year for a 2022 season in which he pitched for a 3.65 ERA over 23 appearances and 24 2⁄3 innings. During that season he played his first MLB game since 2013, earned his first win since 2012, and earned his first save since 2011.
Bard struggled somewhat with consistency in 2021, especially against left-handed batters. Opposing lefties slashed .319/.406/.600 against him versus the .208/.331/.248 line from right-handed batters. He posted a 5.21 ERA over 67 outings and 65 2⁄3 innings. It is worth noting that this was his largest work load since the 2011 season.
So far in 2022, Bard has been a strong closer for the Rockies and was potentially a prized reliever on the trade market. Through 37 2⁄3 innings and 37 appearances, Bard has posted a 1.91 ERA and was considered an All-Star candidate. His 21 saves rank in the league’s top 10.