How valuable is Daniel Bard?

The legend of Daniel Bard is already growing -- and fast.

You all know him. He's the kid with the 100 mile-per-hour heater. He's got that filthy slider. And you might remember when he made that guy named Ryan Howard look foolish in an at-bat in mid-June.

So he's good, we get that. But really, how valuable is that million dollar arm?

The Boston Herald wrote a piece today on how Hall of Famer Jim Palmer made point of meeting with Bard. Palmer obviously sees something special, as most of us do, in Bard. How can you not be at least a little excited for what Bard can/is/could bring to the table?

But this is where his value comes in: is Bard vital to the success of the future Red Sox bullpen? Or, perhaps, could the Red Sox trade Bard -- if they need to -- and bring back a return that may be better than just a reliever?

What people say is that a reliever is not as valuable as a starter. So where does Bard slot in with other prospects like Clay Buchholz or Michael Bowden? Those are the top-tier Sox prospects, though. That doesn't even mention pitchers like Casey Kelly (shortstop?), Junich Tazawa, Nick Hagadone or Stolmy Pimentel.

Considering the talent, does anyone think the Sox should -- if they needed to, of course -- trade Bard at some point? General managers always want to trade players when their value is at their highest and right now, that value is pretty high for our 24-year-old fireballer from North Carolina. The Sox could get a pretty good return for a very talented reliever, but is it worth the trade?

What we must consider with any prospect is the future. Jonathan Papelbon has said recently that, essentially, he'll go to the highest bidder, whether that be the Red Sox or not. And as good as Papelbon has been with the Red Sox, Theo & Co. will only give him as much as he is worth. We've seen that with free agents of the past and that trend will always continue while Theo is at the helm.

Many have said if Papelbon does go, Bard could be the Red Sox's closer of the future. I'm not a fan of dubbing him that right now, because he is still a young guy, but it's definitely a possibility considering his ability out on the mound.

I'd imagine that if the Sox were to trade Bard they'd want something back that could help them for long-term, not a rent-a-player (wreck?). Every team wants to say that, but sometimes it's not very doable or black and white as that sounds.

Bard's future is very uncertain, but the only thing we do know is this: he's got some good stuff. Whether it be with the Red Sox (hopefully, in my opinion) or some other team, he's going to be a really fun pitcher to watch for many more years to come.

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