13:05: Bard’s contract guarantees him “about $19 MM”, Feinsand tweets.
12:52 pm: The Rockies and closer Daniel Bard are in the process of finalizing a contract extension, MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reports (Twitter link). Jon Heyman of the New York Post, meanwhile, reports that the Rockies have already agreed on a two-year extension for ISE Baseball client Bard (Twitter left).
All indications throughout the summer were that the Rockies were not interested in swapping the 37-year-old Bard and rather hoped to keep him out of the current season. It now appears that they have succeeded in that goal.
On paper, Bard looked like the optimal trade candidate: a 37-year-old reliever with an expiring contract and in the middle of a dominant season for a team in last place. The Rockies, however, are marching to the beat of their own drum, perhaps more than any team in the sport, and have made a habit of holding onto conventional trade candidates, even if it means losing key players for nothing, like they did last summer when they dropped out. to trade Jon Gray and surprisingly choose not to make him a qualifying offer.
Rockies owner Dick Monfort has spoken out publicly about his belief that the team has the makings of a winning club, even though results on the pitch in recent seasons have overwhelmingly suggested otherwise. CEO Bill Schmidt, who was elevated from Scouting director to GM’s chair last year following the resignation of GM Jeff Bridich, clearly told Danielle Allentuck of the Denver Gazette earlier this month that he didn’t envision being a big seller by this deadline. years, because the organization believes in the talent on the selection. Manager Bud Black has echoed similar sentiments in recent days, rhetorically wondering why the team would trade a “Range Rover” (Bard) for a “Honda Accord” (presumably a pack of minor league prospects).
At the same time, while it’s certainly reasonable to question the inherently risky decision to extend a 37-year reliever, it’s easy to see how the Rockies became enamored with Bard in the ninth inning. Just returning to the Majors after a seven-year absence would have been a feel-good story in its own right, but Bard hasn’t just come up with one of the most unlikely comebacks in recent memory – he’s quickly climbed the ranks of the elite in MLB.
A late season slump caused Bard’s 2021 ERA to climb to 5.21 after the trade deadline, but he was an absolute powerhouse in Black’s bullpen this year, pitching to a 1.91 ERA with a strikeout percentage of 27.6% and a ground ball percentage of 53.8%. Bard’s running speed of 12.2% is noticeably higher than the competition average of 9.1% among relievers, but his penchant for grounders and inducing generally weak contact (average exit speed of 87.2 mph) has helped him to avoid any damage. that could result from at times spotty control. Bard also averages a blistering 98.1 mph on a sinker that can reach triple digits and make hitters look downright silly sometimes.
Relievers are volatile, as Bard himself has shown with his 2021 and 2022 results, so there’s a big risk that this deal could turn out badly for the Rockies. However, the current version of Bard is about as good a release as you’ll find anywhere in the league – and the Rockies are clearly confident in his ability to hold onto this output even as he nears his 40th birthday.
From a payroll standpoint, Bard will add another noteworthy salary to a 2023 roster that could set a new franchise record in payroll before the front office makes a single roster move. The Rox already had $110MM in next year’s books, and that was before Bard’s new extension and an $18MM player option Charlie Blackmon was likely to use took into consideration. Colorado also owes arbitration raises to Robert Stephenson, Garrett Hampson, Tyler Kinley, Peter Lambert, Austin Gomber and Brendan Rodgers. All of that should push the team against or somewhere above the current franchise record of $145 million. Further additions this winter could send the Rockies into a whole new pay territory.
The Rockies will face much criticism for their commitment to retaining a core player base that has generated only a 0.445 win rate, dating back to the 2019 season, and while the team’s resistance to rebuilding and firm belief that the merits of a contender, both can be reasonably questioned, it’s also somewhat refreshing to see a club keep trying to put together a winning club instead of relying on the kind of heavy, multi-year rebuilds the sport has seen over the past few years. have grown over the years. Even if this group never breaks through and emerges as a true postseason contender in future seasons, at least the Rockies are trying — and that’s more than several teams can say each season.