Why did the Yankees trade Jordan Montgomery for Harrison Bader?

Ryan Garcia
New York Yankees, Jordan Montgomery
Jul 26, 2022; New York City, New York, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher Jordan Montgomery (47) reacts during the first inning against the New York Mets at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees trading Jordan Montgomery is still a head-scratcher. How they could trade their #4 starter when Taillon has struggled, Severino is hurt, and German is currently starting is weird. The trade for Harrison Bader, who is on the IL, is also pretty strange. Brian Cashman has always seemed to have a flare for the dramatic with strange deals, and this is no exception. Harrison Bader is a question mark, the pitching depth is weakened, and everyone in the fanbase is puzzled as to what is going on. I did not like this trade at all at first, but now? Well, I think it might make a bit of sense.

The Playoff Pitching Crunch for the Yankees:

The Yankees are clearly easing Severino back into the mix so he can start again. There were no reported setbacks, and Severino was stunned to find out he was put on the 60-Day IL. There are no questions about whether Severino will start in October or not, and they want him to come all the way back. Between Cortes, Taillon, and Montgomery, it was clear that Cortes would be the one to get the ball in October. He gets more whiffs, has a lower ERA, and better peripherals than those three. Cole and Montas start games 1 and 2, but with that all set, where do the Yankees go from there?

Montgomery and Taillon are hypothetically put into the bullpen, leaving you seven spots for relievers. Here are the relievers that you’d imagine they would consider for October:

  • Clay Holmes
  • Wandy Peralta
  • Scott Effross
  • Ron Marinaccio
  • Albert Abreu
  • Jonathan Loaisiga
  • Aroldis Chapman
  • Lou Trivino
  • Zack Britton

Knowing that you have 9 potential relievers with 9 bullpen spots, to have Montgomery AND Taillon would be rather pointless. You probably could have carried Montgomery as a long-relief arm, but Taillon is also capable of that. Montgomery most likely was not going to end up being a factor for the Yankees in the postseason. For October, the Yankees didn’t get worse at all. Yes, Domingo German is (somehow) starting games in August, but that’s not where this team will be judged; it’ll be in the Fall.

Knowing that you have 9 potential relievers with 9 bullpen spots, to have Montgomery AND Taillon would be rather pointless. You probably could have carried Montgomery as a long-relief arm, but Taillon is also capable of that. Montgomery most likely was not going to end up being a factor for the Yankees in the postseason. For October, the Yankees didn’t get worse at all. Yes, Domingo German is (somehow) starting games in August, but that’s not where this team will be judged; it’ll be in the Fall.

One of the Best Centerfielders in Baseball:

Harrison Bader has consistently been one of baseball’s most underrated position players. Here are his per rate 150 games numbers since 2020:

  • 3.9 fWAR
  • 17 HRs
  • .757 OPS
  • 105 wRC+
  • 18 SBs
  • 9 DRS
  • 15 OAA

That’s a really good baseball player, one with elite defense, above-average offense, and good speed. His power is underrated, as in 2021, he was in the 80th percentile in Max Exit Velocity, and with his 94th percentile sprint speed, he’s an absolutely perfect fit for the Yankees. Steamer and ZiPS both like his offense going forward, projecting him to be a 107 wRC+ bat. If the Yankees get that type of offensive production from him, his defense and base running should make him a perennial 4 WAR player with 5 WAR potential.

 

Ultimately, the Yankees are better with Harrison Bader than Jordan Montgomery come October. That’s truly all that matters for this team. I know this trade is difficult to digest for now, but it’ll come back to help us in the end. The defense is impermeable, the offense is better, and the base running improves as well without losing a playoff starter.