Is Yankees’ Harrison Bader more than a defensive specialist?

When the Yankees traded Jordan Montgomery to the St. Louis Cardinals for Harrison Bader — on the buzzer on commerce deadline day — it raised eyebrows throughout baseball and warranted some explaining.

For starters, their newly acquired middle fielder was in a strolling boot on account of plantar fasciitis and would not have the ability to play till in the direction of the top of the common season. In addition to his incapacity to play instantly, the pitching-needy Bombers shipped out one in every of their most constant starters to get him.

“St. Louis clearly wants beginning pitching, and Harrison Bader is among the elite middle discipline defenders within the recreation,” Brian Cashman stated after the commerce deadline. “And so, he supplies a lot of lanes for us I feel, for our supervisor — when he is wholesome, which, actually, we did a deep dive into his medicals and there is a lot of optimism and perception that a while September clever we’ ll have the ability to unpack that current and deploy him as a selection for our supervisor.

“And sadly, it value us one in every of our homegrown gamers, in Jordan Montgomery, that we have relied on a lot, too. So I’m sorry to see Montgomery go. He’s clearly a actually good pitcher, he is a actually good particular person and he is one in every of our personal, in order that makes it that a lot more troublesome. But it is a powerful world that I reside in and a powerful world that this enterprise operates in.”

Fast ahead to at the moment and it’s a lot simpler to clarify why the Yankees made the transfer. The query now could be does Bader assist get the Yankees throughout the end line (a first World Series look since 2009)?

The 28-year-old made a sturdy first impression when he was lastly in a position to placed on his pinstripes. While his elite protection — 91st percentile in Outs Above Average in 2022 — turned obvious instantly, his means on the plate took a little longer to shine by means of.

The gold glover in 2021 hit .217/.245/.283 with simply three extra-base hits (all doubles) in his 14-game regular-season stint with the Bombers. However, his postseason popping out celebration has opened the dialog of how a lot more may be anticipated of a participant regarded as a defensive specialist.

Bader posted .333/.429/.833 with a team-leading 5 homers in 9 postseason video games. His efficiency was so eye-opening — mixed with how anemic the remainder of the Yankees offense was within the ALCS — that he finally made his approach as much as the lead-off spot in Game 2 of the ALCS towards the Houston Astros.

As a membership that’s looking for more offense coming into the 2023 season with restricted exterior choices accessible, Aaron Boone has no selection however to hope for one of the best with what he has in-house.

Bader’s postseason efficiency warrants official dialogue on if he may be a dependable offensive performer. The Bronxville native’s profession line of .245/.317/.406 is appropriate for a participant together with his defensive means, nevertheless, he did present upside on the dish with the Redbirds in 2021.

The defensive wizard slashed .267/.324/.460 with 16 homers and 50 RBI in 2021. Cashman and firm would join that manufacturing with out hesitation as Bader was arguably one of the best defensive middle fielder within the National League whereas posting above-league -average numbers.

There are additionally discussions available about Bader’s availability with simply 103 video games performed in 2021 and 86 in 2022 on account of harm. As a membership that’s awfully too conversant in the harm bug, the considered Aaron Judge — who simply inked a long-term mega-deal — having to patrol middle discipline due to Bader lacking time is probably going not one thing the Bombers wish to see once more .

The middle fielder does current a curious case, nevertheless, with cash being thrown round prefer it’s going out of fashion this offseason, the outfielder’s providers will doubtless be extremely wanted when he’s a free agent following this season, particularly with how skinny the expertise is at middle discipline throughout baseball — exterior of Mike Trout.

Baders’ 110 WRC+ would have ranked sixth amongst middle fielders in 2021 ought to he have certified with the minimal plate appearances, together with compiling the sixth most defensive runs saved since 2017. His competitors within the 2024 free company class is not precisely stiff as utility man Kike Hernandez, Kevin Kiermaier and Michael A. Taylor are among the many different choices.

Should he carry out nearer to the model of himself displayed within the postseason, Bader might cement himself within the Bombers’ future plans with potential contract extension negotiations quickly to comply with. However, if the 14-game pattern within the common season is the participant the Yanks acquired, high prospect Jasson Dominguez is ready within the wings and figures to be MLB-ready sooner or later in 2024.

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