Blue Jays: Relief pitcher Luke Bard signed to minor league contract

Tampa Bay Rays v Baltimore Orioles
Tampa Bay Rays v Baltimore Orioles / Mitchell Layton/GettyImages

The Blue Jays announced Saturday morning that they had signed right-handed relief pitcher Luke Bard to a minor league deal with an invite to Spring Training.

Bard is a 32-year-old former first-round pick of the Minnesota Twins in the 2012 MLB Draft. He was selected by the Los Angeles Angels in the 2017 Rule 5 Draft, however was returned to the Twins prior to the start of the next season and then signed with the Angels that upcoming offseason.

Bard would spend four seasons in the Angles organization making 46 appearances and posting a 5.05 ERA, however did not play any games during the COVID-shortened 2020 season as he was assigned to the Alernate Training Site. He would then miss all of 2021 after requiring hip surgery early in the season.

In 2022, he would spend the first half of the season bouncing up and down with the Tampa Bay Rays and their Triple-A affiliate. In eight appearances, Bard posted a 1.93 ERA, but averaged 4.5 walks per nine innings and would be designated for assignment in early August and then be claimed by the New York Yankees. He would make one appearance for the Yankees, pitching a clean inning and elect free agency at the end of the season.

Bard has a 95mph fastball that he supplements with a slider, curveball and cutter with the occasional changeup. With the Blue Jays bullpen becoming quite deep, this is nothing more of a depth piece than anything else.

The Blue Jays also invited non-roster player Jamie Ritchie to Spring Training after signing him to a minor league deal at the end of January. Ritchie is a former 13th round pick of the Houston Astros and has split time between outfield and catcher. He will be joining his fourth franchise and has yet to make his MLB debut after playing at Triple-A since 2018.

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