Harrison Bader showing why Yankees made surprising trade deadline deal

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports /

It took a while for Harrison Bader to make his Yankees debut. But he’s making things happen in the postseason making the trade to acquire him look great.

The trade deadline provided many twists and turns, perhaps none more so than the shocking trade that sent outfielder Harrison Bader from the St. Louis Cardinals to the New York Yankees in exchange for left-hander Jordan Montgomery.

There were no rumblings that Bader was available via trade. Montgomery, meanwhile, had been the subject of trade talks with other teams. After the trade was made, the assumption was that the Yankees would add another starting pitcher — Miami Marlins’ Pablo Lopez was a prime target — but they ultimately swung and missed and failed to add another starter.

Early on, the trade looked like a huge coup for the Cardinals and a whiff by the Yankees. In 11 starts, Montgomery posted a 3.11 ERA while Bader was on the Injured List with plantar fasciitis and wouldn’t debut until late in the regular season.

That narrative is starting to change.


Harrison Bader has made big plays in the postseason for the Yankees

In the top of the third inning of Game 1 of the ALDS, Bader made a defensive play in center field that saved at least one run. In the bottom of the third inning, Bader hit a home run to give the Yankees a 1-0 lead.

“He changed our dynamic,” pitching coach Matt Blake said.

Defense has always been Bader’s calling card and why the Yankees felt comfortable parting with Montgomery via trade. Internally, they viewed Bader as a strong candidate to be their long-term center fielder and an immediate upgrade over Aaron Hicks. He showcased that after he debuted late in the season — one scout who follows the Yankees said Bader got to numerous balls in center field that Hicks or others wouldn’t have gotten — and has improved the outfield defense as a whole.

Another part of the Yankees’ draw to Bader is that he’s signed through 2023, so he wasn’t a two-month rental. Now that he’s healthy, he’s making the case to be their center fielder in 2023 and beyond, while changing the narrative surrounding the trade that brought him to the Bronx in the first place.

THE MOONSHOT. Subscribe to our weekly MLB newsletter. light