Daniel Bard is being stretched out as a starter this spring after spending the past four seasons (including three in the majors) as a reliever. He tossed five scoreless innings over his first two Grapefruit League appearances, but was blasted for seven runs over 2 2/3 innings on Thursday against the Cardinals.
We shouldn’t panic about one bad performance, especially one that was interrupted by a rain delay, but two anonymous scouts told Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com that the Red Sox are making a mistake by moving him to the rotation.
“Bard should be in the pen,” the A.L. scout said. “He’s a thrower, not a pitcher. And he’s had success in the pen. I’d have made him the closer once (Jonathan) Papelbon left.”
The other scout agreed, but believes that the Red Sox will give Bard half a season in the rotation before reevaluating. The 26-year-old has his fair share of doubters, in part because he had a disastrous 7.08 ERA and 47/78 K/BB ratio (you’re reading that correctly) over 75 innings as a starter during his first pro season in 2007, but it’s hard to put much stock in those numbers since he was 22 years old at the time and was using different mechanics. He has a chance to provide much more value to the Red Sox as a starter as opposed to a reliever, so this is a worthy experiment.
Of course, Bard has walked seven batters over 7 2/3 innings this spring, which is a bit of a concern after his command suddenly eluded him last September.
The Mariners are in the midst of reconstructing their roster, a process which most recently resulted in the trade of first baseman/DH Edwin Encarnación to the Yankees, per a report from ESPN’s Jeff Passan. While the teams have yet to publicly confirm the deal, the Mariners are expected to receive pitching prospect Juan Then and will likely eat a significant portion of Encarnación’s salary as well.
Encarnación is a sizable get for the Yankees, who could benefit from the veteran’s power and consistency in their ongoing drive toward the postseason. The 36-year-old infielder missed some time with a bout of lower back tightness, dental issues, and soreness in his left hand, but has still maintained a decent .241/.356/.531 batting line with an AL-best 21 home runs, an .888 OPS, and 1.7 fWAR through his first 289 plate appearances of the year. Per Mark Feinsand of MLB.com, Encarnación has another $11-12 million left on his contract in 2019, with a $20 million option for the 2020 season and a $5 million buyout.
Then, 19, was acquired by the Yankees in a three-person trade with the Mariners during the 2017 offseason. The right-hander currently ranks no. 27 in the Yankees’ system and made his last pro ball appearance for New York’s rookie-level affiliate in 2018, pitching to a 2.70 ERA, 2.0 BB/9, and 7.6 SO/9 across 50 innings. It’s not clear if any other players are involved in the trade, though USA Today’s Bob Nightengale notes that no other prospects are thought to be included in the package for Encarnación.