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Yankees activate Harrison Bader, place Frankie Montas on IL

New York’s return from the Jordan Montgomery trade will finally see action tonight.

New York Yankees headshot Photo by New York Yankees/Getty Images

In a transaction that has been a long time coming at this point, the Yankees are getting center fielder Harrison Bader back from the 60-day injured list. The elite defender had been out since June 26th with plantar fasciitis in his right foot and spent the past week rehabbing with the Double-A Somerset Patriots. Bader has been activated, with starter Frankie Montas heading to the IL himself with shoulder inflammation.

The somewhat-false word in that first sentence of the last paragraph was “back,” as Bader had not truly been with the Yankees at all. He was acquired from the Cardinals during the final minutes of the trade deadline in the deal that sent starter Jordan Montgomery to St. Louis. Given how the left-hander has flourished in the NL Central as the Yankees’ own fortunes took an ugly turn in August, the trade is not exactly a fond memory for Yankees fans at this point, but what’s done is done. All we can do is hope that Bader turns in a good performance as the 2022 regular season comes to a close and playoff baseball begins. He’ll bat seventh tonight and man center field.

To his credit, Bader is a Gold Glove defender in center, having won National League honors there last year, and Baseball Savant agrees with the praise. Bader’s Outs Above Average ranks in the 91st percentile this year, his Sprint Speed sits 94th, and his Outfield Jump is 81st. This is a player who absolutely knows what he’s doing on defense, has terrific instincts, and will make an impact out there.

The only question is how Bader’s bat will hold up. The Bronxville native was absolutely a solid contributor for St. Louis from 2020-21, batting .258/.327/.457 with 28 doubles, 12 stolen bases, and 20 homers in 153 games, good for a 111 wRC+. Prior to his foot injury this season though, the 28-year-old had taken a step back, with a .256/.303/.370 triple slash with a lower walk rate and just 15 extra-base hits in 72 games, a 93 wRC+. That’s better than the likes of Aaron Hicks and the other fourth outfielders who have been bumped up to starting roles this year, but not significantly so. The Yankees will clearly hope for more.

Of course, as one trade deadline addition joins, another one departs. The Montas trade has been almost entirely a nightmare for the Yankees, as the right-hander was at first ineffective and is now on the IL with a shoulder injury similar to the one he had earlier this year in Oakland. It would help explain his struggles, but that’s hardly much of a reassurance at this point. Although Montas is hoping to return in time for one more regular-season start, nothing about his second half has me all that optimistic about him in any way, shape, or form.

As previously reported, Montas will be replaced in the rotation by Domingo Germán, who was only briefly in the bullpen because Luis Severino is set to return tomorrow.