Rockies Continue To Be Rockies, Give Two-Year Extension to Daniel Bard

Daniel Bard
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The Rockies conjured up their own trade deadline magic, extending their closer, Daniel Bard, to a two-year contract extension reportedly worth $19 million. Bard, who turned 37 last month, has done a solid job as Colorado’s closer for the second straight season, putting up a 1.91 ERA — though with a considerably less impressive 3.55 FIP — in 37 appearances for the last-place Rockies this season.

Colorado had previously dropped hints that there were not going to be many, if any, trades of veteran talent this week. As this extension highlights, this was not a negotiating position to entice other teams to make more lucrative offers for its most valuable players. At this point, I doubt anyone in baseball thought otherwise, as the Rockies have long been notorious for not treating the trade deadline as an opportunity either to improve the team in a pennant drive or to rebuild/retool to help achieve future goals. For one of the best examples, look no further than last season, when they decided not to trade Trevor Story (to Story’s confusion) or Jon Gray, instead preferring to let the former walk for a compensation pick and, since he received no qualifying offer, the latter move on with no compensation for the franchise.

Don’t get me wrong: for a lot of teams, getting Bard as either a short-term rental or on this exact contract would have been a very good move. If he were not the best reliever plausibly available this week, he was certainly in the top tier, and a wide variety of contending teams with middling-or-worse bullpens, such as the Cardinals, Twins, or Blue Jays, ought to have had an interest in swapping prospects with real futures for his services. Bard’s 1.91 ERA this year is no more “real” than his 5.21 ERA last year in the opposite direction, but he’s an above-average closer, and it’s nice to be able to sign one of those in free agency to a two- or three-year deal at a reasonable price.

ZiPS Projection – Daniel Bard
Year W L ERA G GS IP H ER HR BB SO ERA+ WAR
2023 6 4 3.91 51 0 50.7 42 22 6 27 63 127 0.7
2024 5 4 4.03 45 0 44.7 38 20 5 25 55 123 0.5

Liking Bard for the rest of 2022 and/or the next two seasons is not the least bit odd; it just makes little sense for the Rockies to be the organization to act on that positive evaluation. Even more baffling is that, when it came to Gray, they never went above a three-year, $35–$40 million offer — one they didn’t even make until the very end of the 2021 season. Valuing a solid starting pitcher only a little more than a solid closer is just the latest example of this organization’s dysfunction. Why trade for a 22-year-old and have to wait 15 years for him to become a 37-year-old veteran when you can just keep the player you have?

About a decade ago (I can’t find the original reference), I was fond of describing the Rockies as having the exact same plan as Homer from the episode of The Simpsons in which he had to pass a class in nuclear physics in order to keep his job. Specifically, his stated scheme was to hide under a pile of coats during the final exam and hope everything would just work out.

I don’t think anything has changed. The franchise’s decision-makers have demonstrated little understanding, in 2022 terms, of why good baseball teams are good baseball teams, why bad baseball teams are bad baseball teams, and what events cause teams in one category to shift to the other one. The Rockies are poorly run in the same manner that a team from 1982 would be poorly run. Year in, year out, they throw a roster together with the finesse of someone dumping their underwear load from a laundromat dryer into their cart at 3 AM on a Thursday morning.

From time to time, the Rockies develop a young player that they’re forced to play because they don’t have enough Ian Desmonds or Gerardo Parri to block them, and they are briefly competitive, as they were in 2009–10 and 2018–19. The rest of the time, they’ll meander between fourth place and last in the NL West, misidentifying their bullpen as the primary reason they’re not successful. This is the worst-run organization in baseball since the Syd Thrift-era Orioles, and as long as the Rockies keep getting nearly 3 million fans in the park not demanding anything different with their wallets, there’s little reason to think things will change.





Dan Szymborski is a senior writer for FanGraphs and the developer of the ZiPS projection system. He was a writer for ESPN.com from 2010-2018, a regular guest on a number of radio shows and podcasts, and a voting BBWAA member. He also maintains a terrible Twitter account at @DSzymborski.

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Sammy Sooser
1 month ago

“We’re not the Dodgers. We’re the Colorado Rockies. We scout, draft and develop.”

– Rockies GM Bill Schmidt

Friedman just said he hates trading for relievers at the deadline, and the Rockies hate trading at the deadline, but that might be taking this stance a little far.

Last edited 1 month ago by Sammy Sooser
sadtrombonemember
1 month ago
Reply to  Sammy Sooser

“And we repeatedly sign players in free agency to very expensive contracts in order to move them down the defensive spectrum.”

sadtrombonemember
1 month ago
Reply to  sadtrombone

Although now that I think of it, the corner outfield in Coors is large enough that it may not be that much further down the defensive spectrum compared to third base. It’s just that Bryant is fundamentally unsuited to cover it.