In a move that somewhat mirrors a tactic used last year in signing Joakim Soria, Peter Gammons is reporting that the Daniel Bard has agreed to a deal with the Texas Rangers. There is no word yet on the exact terms of the deal, although it's likely it will be a minor league deal.
Bard, who has been an effective right-handed reliever in Boston as recently as 2011, underwent surgery for Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS) -- a procedure you may remember was required by Jarrod Saltalamacchia while he was with the Rangers -- and won't be ready to contribute until at least the middle of the season.
In a lot of ways, I like this type of move from the front office, as it leaves open the possibility of a bullpen reinforcement at a time when injuries and fatigue tend to to set in. Bard, who only appeared in two games in 2013 for Boston, put up a 6.22 ERA in 2012 while giving up 1.4 HR/9, 6.5 BB/9, and seeing his strikeout rate dip to 5.8 SO/9.
In his previous three seasons dating back to 2009, Bard had a 2.88 ERA while giving up 0.7 HR/9, 3.5 BB/9, and a much better 9.7 SO/9.
In other words, if the TOS has indeed been the problem, you're looking at possibly adding a 1-1.5 WAR player to the bullpen in the middle of the season, something that could potentially make a real difference if, once again, the division or wild card comes down to the very end of the season.
In some circle's it is believed that some of Bards issues over the past two seasons have been the result of the Red Sox flip-flopping their decision-making as to whether he would start or come out of the bullpen. A hard-throwing righty, Bard struggled with his velocity and command, and we're left wondering how much was a confidence issue, and how much was due to TOS.
Given that Joseph Ortiz just had surgery for a broken foot, he's not likely to see any time with the Major League club this season, and unless you're inclined to believe Michael Kirkman can finally put it all together (I'm not), then having multiple fallback options in place is certainly important.
At worst, it's likely the Rangers don't waste much of anything besides some coaching if things don't work out, but if Bard indeed can be the type of asset he was during the first part of his career, this is exactly the type of high-upside signing that has helped Jon Daniels and the rest of the front office put together what has become, over the last couple of seasons, one of the best bullpens in baseball.