Yankees’ defensive outfield maestro claimed by Reds

harrison bader, yankees
Oct 23, 2022; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees center fielder Harrison Bader (22) rounds the bases after hitting a home run against the Houston Astros in the sixth inning during game four of the ALCS for the 2022 MLB Playoffs at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees have made a significant roster shake-up, promoting rising stars Jasson Dominguez and Austin Wells to make their debut against the Houston Astros this Friday night. To clear the path for these young talents, the team made two noteworthy cuts that could have ripple effects not just for the Yankees, but for the league at large.

High-Priced Veteran Cuts

First off, the Yankees released veteran infielder Josh Donaldson, whom they had paid a whopping $50 million over the last two years. Unfortunately, his below-average offensive metrics didn’t justify the hefty investment. Additionally, starting center fielder Harrison Bader was waived, a move promptly capitalized upon by the Cincinnati Reds, who claimed him on Thursday afternoon.

Harrison Bader’s Mixed Bag Heads to Cincinnati

The Reds will inherit a player in Bader who, despite his offensive struggles, brings immense defensive value to the table. In the current contract year, he’s been batting a middling .240, with a .278 OBP. His season statistics also include seven home runs, 37 RBIs, and 17 stolen bases. On the metric side, he’s clocked an 18.1% strikeout rate, a 4.5% walk rate, and a 76 wRC+.

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Fielding Metrics

On the defensive front, Bader has played 673.1 innings this year. He’s recorded six errors and managed a .972 fielding percentage, along with five defensive runs saved and eight outs above average.

Reds’ Playoff Outlook

The Cincinnati Reds are currently six games behind the NL Central leaders, the Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers. However, they’re only a single game behind in the Wild Card standings. With a month left to close the gap, Bader’s defensive skills could be an asset.

The Yankees’ Pivot to Youth and Future Plans

The Yankees find themselves in a less enviable position, sitting 10 games back in the Wild Card race. This reality has pushed them to turn their focus toward youth, looking to ignite a resurgence in the 2024 season.

Impact on Upcoming Free-Agent Decisions

This shift to younger prospects could be pivotal when it comes to making free-agent decisions in the coming off-season. If General Manager Brian Cashman is granted the budget flexibility to make big moves, the performance of these youngsters will likely influence those decisions significantly.

The Yankees’ new roster changes highlight a pivot toward the future, betting on the promise of youth over expensive veteran contracts. With the Reds taking a gamble on Bader and the Yankees looking ahead to 2024, both teams are making moves that they hope will pay dividends in both the short term and the long run.