The Yankees may have struck gold with heavily criticized trade acquisition

Alexander Wilson
harrison bader, yankees
Sep 20, 2022; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees center fielder Harrison Bader (22) reacts after hitting a two run single against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the sixth inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman whiffed on a number of moves before and during the 2022 season. However, he set the team’s outfield up perfectly for 2023 (given they retain Aaron Judge).

Aside from the Yankees calling up rookie Oswaldo Cabrera, who excelled defensively and offered some offensive support down the stretch, the team‘s best acquisition might end up being Harrison Bader from the St. Louis Cardinals.

Ironically, Cashman’s most questioned move, trading Jordan Montgomery in exchange for an injured outfielder, might end up being one of his best.

Of course, despite his offensive deficiencies during the postseason, the addition of Jose Treviño was a net positive move. Treviño is in line to win a Gold Glove for his defensive metrics behind home plate, which certainly shouldn’t go unnoticed.

The Yankees can get a lot of value out of Harrison Bader:

Bader doesn’t only offer an elite defensive centerfielder, we also caught a glimpse of what he’s capable of in the batter’s box. Seemingly, Bader has star potential.

Across 14 games for the Yankees during the regular season, he only hit .217 with a 24.5% on-base rate. During the playoffs, though, he was a totally different beast, something the Yankees desperately need in the future. Over nine games, he hit .333 with a 42.9% on-base rate, five homers, and six RBIs with an 11.4% walk rate.

Whatever Bader was drinking to boost his numbers that much is something Yankee fans should be extremely excited about, let alone his 15 defensive runs saved above average during the 2021 season. Bader isn’t known for his slugging prowess, hitting a career-high 16 homers with St. Louis in 2021.

However, if he subscribes to the Yankees’ mantra of “hitting strikes hard,” he might be able to breach 20 homers for the first time in his career. The team has him under contract until the 2024 off-season, and at a $5.2 million price point for next year, he’s an absolute steal.

While Cashman did have to give up one of his more reliable lefty starters in, Jordan Montgomery, to get the deal done, Bader could end up becoming a star for the Yankees if he can maintain his health. He has only played one season of 100+ baseball games since 2019, which is a bit concerning.

The Yankees will need to play their cards right next year to maintain health across the board, which was something that hurt them significantly ahead of the playoffs. Losing Andrew Benintendi and DJ LeMahieu was devastating, considering both are great postseason players.