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Twins lose Nick Burdi, Luke Bard in Rule 5 draft

The Twins’ pitching depth took a couple hits this morning, but can’t say no one saw it coming.

MLB: Minnesota Twins-Spring Training Media Day
Bye bye, Burdi.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

After a brief delay caused by a computer glitch (god forbid they use a pen and paper), the Rule 5 draft got underway this morning in Orlando. The Twins lost two pitchers this year: Nick Burdi and Luke Bard.

The loss of Burdi was pretty much expected. The hard-throwing righty was taken third by the Phillies, who then flipped him to the Pirates for international spending money (because the Rule 5 draft is weird like that). Anyway, the Pirates now have the task of overseeing Burdi’s recovery from Tommy John surgery, and then keeping him on their active major league roster for 90 days after that. Burdi, 24, has never pitched above Double-A.

Burdi has been severely limited by injuries over the past two years, having pitched only 20.0 innings in the regular season since 2015. When he’s healthy, though, his fastball reaches the upper 90s and sometimes triple digits. It’s a bummer of the loss for the Twins, but there’s a decent chance the Pirates get impatient with him and end up returning him anyway.

Bard is a more unexpected loss, but not surprising. The Angels took the 27-year-old righty with the seventeenth pick, and it appears they plan to keep him. Over 52.1 innings at Double-A last year, Bard posted a 2.58 ERA with a nice 13.4 K/9. He also pitched 13.0 innings at Triple-A with a 3.46 ERA and 21 strikeouts. He’s generally considered basically major-league ready (as he should be at 27 year’s old), so the selection makes sense — though, after acquiring Shohei Ohtani, Ian Kinsler, and others, one might wonder if the Angels are more serious about making a playoff run in 2018. If that’s the case, the Angels might not have space to keep Bard in the bullpen all year if he doesn’t quickly find some level of success.

Some thought the Twins might lose three players, so only losing two is sort of a win, right? Notable unprotected players who were not taken include almost major-league ready Jake Reed, former first round draft pick Khol Stewart, and AFL standout Ryan Eades.