Lost in the speculation about how long Daniel Bard’s demotion to Triple-A will last is the fact that the Red Sox right-hander wanted nothing to do with being sent to the minors.
Bard is scheduled to make his Pawtucket debut tonight, so he spoke to the local media and made it clear to Mike Scandura of the Boston Globe that he wasn’t on board with the decision:
It’s not my decision. I’m just an employee here. Obviously, I’m not thrilled with it. If it was me making the decision it might have been different. But I tried to be respectful about it. Once I get the anger and disappointment out of the way you just have to try to make the best out of the situation.
Bard then went on to question the changes he was asked to make moving from the bullpen to the rotation, saying “we probably did a little too much” with his mechanics and “it just wasn’t the same as it used to be.”
As a reliever Bard had a 2.87 ERA, .190 oppponents’ batting average, and 9.7 strikeouts per nine innings in 193 appearances. As a starter he had a 5.30 ERA, .261 opponents’ batting average, and 5.6 strikeouts per nine innings in 10 outings, all while losing 4-5 miles per hour on his fastball.
He forced the Red Sox’s hand a bit by performing so poorly in the rotation, but it sounds like Bard is among the many people questioning how the entire situation was handled. For now the Red Sox have insisted that he remains in the rotation plans whenever he returns from the minors, but something will clearly have to change (or change back) for Bard to find success there.
Update (7:01 PM EDT): David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports the deal has been completed.
ESPN’s Keith Law reported on Saturday evening that a bad contract swap involving the Braves’ Hector Olivera and the Padres’ Matt Kemp was “getting close.” Olivera has been pulled off the field, per Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that only a last-second medical would kill the deal at this point, and that the Padres will be sending money to the Braves.
Kemp, 31, will have $64.5 million remaining on his contract through 2019 after this season, but the Dodgers will pay $3.5 million annually over those remaining three years, so the $64.5 million is really $54 million. The veteran has compiled a .262/.285/.489 triple-slash line with 23 home runs and 69 RBI in 431 plate appearances for the Padres this season.
Olivera, 31, will have $28.5 million remaining on his contract through 2020 after this season. The outfielder was handed an 82-game suspension, beginning on May 26, for his involvement in a domestic dispute on April 13. The suspension is up on August 2. He has a .501 OPS in 21 major league at-bats this season and a .278 OPS in 37 PA at Triple-A.
Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that the Padres will consider designating Olivera for assignment. The trade is all about the salary dump for the Padres, as they’d rather give outfield playing time to prospects Hunter Renfroe and Manuel Margot.
The Athletics and Royals swapped outfielders on Saturday. The Athletics sent Billy Burns to Kansas City and the Royals sent Brett Eibner to Oakland.
Burns, 26, doesn’t provide much in the way of offense, but he runs the bases well and plays solid defense. He was hitting .234/.270/.303 with 11 doubles, four triples, and 14 stolen bases in 274 plate appearances.
Eibner, 27, was batting .231/.286/.423 with three home runs and 10 RBI in 85 plate appearances. He has spent most of the season with Triple-A Omaha, where he’s put up a .902 OPS in 219 PA. Eibner played the outfield corners in the majors, but racked up a ton of time playing center in the minors, so his versatility will be valuable to the A’s.
Burns will become eligible for arbitration for the first time after the 2017 season while Eibner has hardly accrued any service time, which might explain part of the motivation behind the trade for the small-market Athletics.