The New York Yankees have been surviving in the outfield without star defensive centerfielder Harrison Bader, rotating Aaron Judge, and a few other supplementary options to start the season.
Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Aaron Hicks have both experienced opportunities in CF, but once Bader eventually returns, those reps will be far and few in between.
The Yankees could use Harrison Bader’s services right about now:
Bader has been dealing with an oblique strain that has kept him out for several weeks, but he’s ramping up his rehab process and expects to participate in a rehab assignment next week. Manager Aaron Boone did indicate that Bader would need a large sample size to make a return eventually, but they will get him back sooner or later.
Harrison Bader will likely go on a rehab assignment some time next week. Aaron Boone says it will not be a small sample of games, as Bader needs to build himself back up.Per Justin Shackil of the YES Network.
The Bombers acquired Bader from the St. Louis Cardinals last year at the trade deadline in exchange for starting pitcher Jordan Montgomery. The 28-year-old was dealing with a plantar fasciitis injury that enabled him to play just 86 games in 2022.
However, he was a phenom for the Yankees during their postseason run, which stopped at the ALCS against the Houston Astros. Over nine games, Bader hit .333 with a .429 OBP, slugging five homers with six RBIs.
In the meantime, expect to see plenty of Hicks and Judge manning centerfield. After the 2023 season comes to an end, Bader’s service time will be complete, and he will hit free agency, looking for a new deal.
The Yankees may only view him as a stop-gap solution, especially with Jasson Dominguez dominating during spring training and showing he can hit against MLB-level pitchers. Dominguez may win a starting outfield job outright next year, but he needs to reach Triple-A first before that becomes a realistic narrative.