The New York Yankees have been waiting patiently for the return of outfielder Harrison Bader, who is expected to bring premium-level defense and quality base running upon his activation.
Before going down with planter fasciitis, Bader was hitting .256 with a 30.3% on-base rate for the St. Louis Cardinals. The Yankees, of course, traded Jordan Montgomery in exchange for the injured outfielder, hoping he could make an impact during the postseason.
General manager Brian Cashman was content with the starting pitching rotation after acquiring Frankie Montas, viewing Bader as a net positive upon his return.
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Harrison Bader is crushing for the Yankees’ Double-A affiliate:
Luckily for the Yankees, they are seeing the type of value he brings to a team with Double-A Somerset as he continues his rehab assignments. Bader has made four appearances with Somerset over the past few days, enjoying 14 at-bats. He’s hitting .429 with a 46.7% on-base rate, including a home run and four RBIs.
He’s tallied two doubles over his six hits, striking out twice. He’s also stolen a base in that timeframe, once again showing off his incredible speed and athleticism. Before the injury, he has stolen 15 bases with the Cardinals, tying his career-high from back in 2018.
Based on his unbelievable production, the expectation is that Bader will be elevated to Triple-A Scranton within the next few days, taking a major leap in his timetable for return. It is possible the Yankees bring him back within the next week or two, giving him a decent sample size of regular season games before the Yankees head to the playoffs.
The expectation is that Aaron Judge will shift back to right field and Bader will take over in center, but that would force Oswaldo Cabrera to change his position again unless Andrew Benintendi is also projected to return around the same time.
The belief is a Benintendi still needs a few more weeks to let his wrist heal after undergoing surgery to fix a broken bone. However, I wouldn’t rule out the idea of starting Bader in left field, keeping Judge in center and Cabrera in right. Anything to keep Aaron Hicks out of the lineup seems to be a positive move.