Pirates Sign Daniel Bard to Minor League Deal, Re-Sign Guido Knudson

The Pittsburgh Pirates have signed right-handed reliever Daniel Bard to a minor league contract. Once a top prospect who turned into a solid Major League reliever for three seasons(2009-11), Bard battled major control issues in 2013-14. During his four minor league games in 2014, all spent in Low-A, he faced a total of 18 batters, walking nine and hitting seven. He also tried winter ball and the results were even worse, with 12 of the 13 hitters getting walked or hit, plus he threw four wild pitches. The 30-year-old signed with the Cubs in 2015, then spent the entire year on the disabled list.

Bard is a big arm, hitting 100 mph in the past, while also throwing a low-90’s sinker. He had a lot of success with the combo in the minors and for three years with the Red Sox, but he is also far removed from that success. If the Pirates can get him back on track, then it’s another power arm in the bullpen. It’s a minor league deal, so there is no risk involved(except to opposing hitters) to give him a shot. If he shows any signs of his control returning, then Bard will probably open the season with Indianapolis. If not, he could hang back in Extended Spring Training to continue to work on things.

Updated 9:30 am: The Pirates have re-signed Guido Knudson, who was released last week. He was dropped from the 40-man roster when the Pirates added Neftali Perez and Trey Haley last week, then became a free agent when he was sent outright to Indianapolis. There was interest right away in re-signing him and the two sides quickly agreed to a minor league deal.

Knudson on the re-signing: “They’ve actually been in constant contact for the most part. Just had to make room for a couple of roster changes. They really wanted me here, and I want to be here, so it was a pretty easy decision.”

Knudson mentioned that he throws a slider and a change-up to go along with his fastball, which reaches 94 mph. He’s comfortable throwing all three pitches. The 26-year-old got his first taste of the big leagues in 2015, making four appearances over a two-week span in late August and early September. The results weren’t pretty, with ten earned runs allowed over five innings, including a home run in each appearance, two in the last outing. Knudson however, had a strong season in AAA, reaching the level for the first time in 2015, so there is potential there. Now the Pirates have him on a minor league deal, so he will likely start out in the Indianapolis bullpen and will get a shot in Pittsburgh if he pitches like he did at AAA last year.

  • The ex-Indian’s top prospect (whose name escapes me – Anrew Miller keeps popping in my head but that’s not it) last year, Daniel Bard this year. Get Jeff Karstens on the horn.

  • Ha! You said Neftali Perez in the article. I have said that like 5 times by accident since they signed Feliz. Neftali Perez has burned an indelible mark on our brains.

  • Thank God we re-signed Guido!!!!

  • I get confused about the rules in a situation like this.

    According to BBR, Bard has 3.074 years of service, If he were to to come at the midpoint of the season, stick with the club, and finish the year with less than four years of service, the Pirates would own his rights for three more seasons and he’d be arbitration eligible for each, right?

  • Indy’s bullpen could be pretty intimidating. I guess in a strange way this actually helps the development of their opponents by giving them the chance to face MLB-quality arms at the AAA level.

  • Every team does it differently…and the whole “more than one way to skin a cat” phrase fits in almost every aspect of life…but I think the difference between Pittsburgh and some other organizations right now is that they’re “all in” on how they build the organization. They don’t veer too far away at any one point and have certain signings that fall far from the norm for the organization. That consistency at the top has helped the organization from the bottom to the top. Just like Brault’s comment the other day about the “Pirate Way.”

  • BuccosFanStuckinMD
    January 11, 2016 10:03 am

    Good pickup of Bard – like was stated in the article, literally zero risk and maybe he will recapture his previous form….my only complaint…he’s not left-handed…not all of these RH relievers will fit on the roster…

    • Just so we don’t allow Cutch, Marte, or Kang face him in any intrasquad games in ST. Be a great story, though, if we could fix his control problems.

    • Not zero risk to the players standing in the box during practice, though. Or in the dugout, or the stands . . .


  • I saw Bard in a couple of different seasons in AA, and he threw much harder than anyone I had seen in the Pirates system up to that time. Guys like him are living proof that success can be a short lived thing in professional baseball.

  • I really like the pick up of Bard. There was a time some thought he was future closer for Boston. With Pirates success of helping pitchers with there control, it could really work out for both parties.

  • You just can’t make up numbers like those. It’s like something out of one of the Major League sequels. Eighteen batters faced, nine walks, seven hit batsmen. The other two were likely swinging strikeouts by Stetson Allie 😉

    • Yea but he brings the heat. You can’t teach velocity but there is a chance you can teach control Bring them in and run them through your pitching program and see what happens.

    • BuccosFanStuckinMD
      January 11, 2016 10:03 am

      Sounds like Steve Blass, when he lost it….

    • I know the Allie thing was a joke but the two others were against Pirate farm hands. Candon Myles struck out and Harold Ramirez grounded out back to Bard.

      • Darn, I was hoping just for the ugliness of it, that he had two grand slams allowed sandwiched in there with the BB’s and HBP’s.

      • Haha, I’d hope he had to run laps for about six hours after swinging at that stuff. Bonus points for having the cajones to stand in the box, though.

  • Bard had rib extension surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome in Jan. 2014.

    That just sounds like it would hurt for awhile. I’ve had bruised ribs and cracked ribs. No picnic.

  • They’re definitely just doing this to prepare for the Cubs.

    • Beat me to it Zach

    • BuccosFanStuckinMD
      January 11, 2016 11:24 am

      Good, because we all know they didn’t do ANYTHING to retaliate when Coughlin hurt Kang last season with his late and reckless slide….that was embarrassing and sent the wrong message….

  • It seems the Pirates are collecting as many big arms as possible and hoping a few can pan out. A low risk high reward strategy.