Harrison Bader trade: Yankees acquire outfielder from Cardinals for Jordan Montgomery

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The Cardinals and Yankees have agreed to a trade that will send left-hander Jordan Montgomery to St. Louis in exchange for center fielder Harrison Bader, the teams announced.

Montgomery, 29, posted a 3.69 ERA (104 ERA+) and a 4.22 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 114 innings this season in pinstripes. He is scheduled to hit free agency after the 2023 season. Montgomery does most of his work behind a three-pitch mix: a 93-mph fastball and low-80s changeup and curveball. He throws strikes and has generated a career-high 46 percent ground balls this season, making him a good fit in front of St. Louis’ top-notch defensive infield.

Bader, 28, will also qualify for free agency after next season. He is currently on the injured list with plantar fasciitis in his right foot. He’s expected to return before the regular season ends, although not anytime soon. MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch tweeted that Bader will be shut down for a week or two and placed in a walking boot.

Prior to going on the shelf, Bader had hit .256/.303/.370 (93 OPS+) with five home runs and 15 stolen bases (on 17 attempts). He’s regarded as one of the best-fielding outfielders in the majors, having amassed 47 career Defensive Runs Saved, according to Baseball-Reference. In other words, the Yankees would be justified if they use Bader as their center fielder, moving Aaron Judge back to a corner.

The Yankees acquired Frankie Montas earlier this week, and they have Luis Severino working his way back from an injury. That left them with potentially six starting pitching options. Clearly, then, New York valued the opportunity to add another piece to their outfield.

The Cardinals, conversely, needed pitching help — even after acquiring José Quintana from the Pittsburgh Pirates. They must’ve felt Bader was expendable given the presence of Dylan Carlson, one of the players the San Diego Padres were seeking in a potential Juan Soto trade.

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