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Yankees trade Jordan Montgomery to Cardinals for Harrison Bader

New York completes a revamp of their outfield by dealing from their starting pitching depth.

Kansas City Royals v New York Yankees Photo by Adam Hunger/Getty Images

The Yankees made the most of the trade deadline yesterday and completed the long-assumed Joey Gallo trade earlier today, but there was plenty of rumors that the team wasn’t done just yet. After rumors emerged that they were one of a few teams kicking around the asking price for Carlos Rodon or Pablo López, they went in the complete opposite direction and dealt one of their current rotation members in Jordan Montgomery to the St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for Harrison Bader.

Montgomery has been a mainstay in the rotation since getting called up in 2017, though injuries robbed him of time in 2018-19. He’s also been one of the most consistent pitchers they’ve had, and that remained true to this point in 2022: he posted a 3.69 ERA and 3.91 FIP with 97 strikeouts in 114.2 innings, good for a 1.4 fWAR. However, after making his first 12 starts without allowing more than three runs, things took a bit of a turn around June. His ERA has risen in each month this year, ending with a 4.91 mark in July — and after the Yankees went and got Frankie Montas from the A’s, Montgomery has fallen down the order in the rotation.

So the potential to flip Monty is there, but the return is a surprise to be sure. Harrison Bader is a capable defense-first center fielder ... who is currently not capable of playing because he’s on the Injured List. Bader hasn’t played in a game since June 26th after experiencing pain in his right foot, which was diagnosed as plantar fasciitis. The Cardinals have included a player to be named later in the deal if Bader is incapable of returning this year, though the they do expect him to do so.

It’s clear that Bader will not be immediately joining the team, which makes this a perplexing swap for a Yankees team in the middle of chasing a ring this year. It also is a strange acquisition for an outfield that’s already full at the moment with Andrew Benintendi, Aaron Hicks, and MVP front-runner Aaron Judge. If the move is meant to be an improvement from Hicks in center it’s questionable at best, and if it’s a move for next year than it becomes even more puzzling that they dealt from their major-league talent currently. We’ll see if anything else arrives after the buzzer to clear things up, but at the moment this is a surprising twist ending to the trade deadline for New York.