The New York Yankees were having a tremendous trade online, acquiring Andrew Benintendi, Scott Effross, and Frankie Montas to reinforce the outfield, bullpen, and starting rotation. Those three impact players will help carry the Yankees into the postseason and hopefully increase the probability of reaching the World Series.
However, general manager Brian Cashman made one final move with just seconds left leading up to the deadline. He decided to trade left-handed pitcher Jordan Montgomery to the St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for Harrison Bader, “one of the elite center field defenders in the game.”
After executing the trade, Cashman spoke highly of his defensive qualities, but it still doesn’t make much sense given the value Montgomery had prior to the trade and his potential impact in the postseason.
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Why would the Yankees swap Gumby for an injured outfielder?
The basic logic behind trading Montgomery is that the Yankees didn’t see him as a usable piece during the playoffs, but you can make a strong argument that Jameson Taillon isn’t a usable piece either. In fact, trading Taillon might’ve been a better move, but Montgomery has one extra year of team control, which obviously has value.
This season, Monty hosts a 3.69 ERA over 114.2 innings. His strikeout rate is down significantly to 7.61 per nine with a 76% left on base rate and 46.4% ground ball rate. He’s giving up a few homers with a 13.8% HR/FB ratio.
The issue with Bader is simple, he currently has a boot on his foot due to plantar fasciitis, which is expected to keep him out until September at the very earliest.
Bader hosts a .256 average with a 30% on-base rate over 72 games this season, including five homers and 21 RBIs. He has stolen 15 bases, showcasing his elite athletism. In fact, he ranks in the 94th percentile in sprint speed and 91st percentile in outs above average. These indicate he is a fantastic defender, capable of incredible range in centerfield. Moving Aaron Judge back to right field will help mitigate any fatigue and injury down the stretch, given it’s one of the easier positions to play in Yankee Stadium.
Cashman did mention that they have Bader graded as a 60-70 defender and 60-70 runner who could feature as a pinch runner in specific situations or simply start in centerfield and fortify the outfield. Ultimately, that would shift Aaron Hicks to the bench.
The question is, if Bader doesn’t make a return this season from a serious foot injury, will losing Montgomery end up biting the Yankees in the butt? They still have a few months left until the postseason, meaning injuries could pop up at any moment.
The major concern was the starting rotation heading into the deadline, and while acquiring Montas was a big acquisition, they gave away one of their more reliable left-handed starters. Clearly, they must have a lot of faith in Taillon and Nestor Cortes down the stretch.