Well. On the heels of the Yankees parting ways with Josh Donaldson earlier today, the club has made another move. I think it is fair that this one was considerably more unexpected. Shortly after the Angels sent shockwaves cross MLB media by placing essentially all of their Trade Deadline additions on waivers, the Yankees did the same with Harrison Bader.
A deadline addition as well, albeit in 2022, Bader was a postseason hero for New York after recovering from plantar fasciitis and earned plaudits for his outstanding glove. He’s battled injuries again in 2023 though, and with a paltry numbers on a team completely out of contention, now finds himself joining all those Halos on the waiver wire.
Recent speculation about Bader was likely centered around whether the club would re-sign him, but now here we are. The club was already lagging at the 2023 Trade Deadline and could’ve sold him for at least a lottery ticket prospect; instead, they held on and Hal Steinbrenner will now have to content himself with salary relief. What a deal!
Hearing from multiple sources the Yankees have put CF Harrison Bader on waivers. Will be interesting to see if a contending team in need of outfield help will put in a claim.— Erik Boland (@eboland11) August 29, 2023
In 82 games with New York this year, Bader has posted a respectable 1.4 fWAR. But that value is almost exclusively derived from his defense. On the season, the Bronxville native has managed a 78 wRC+, three points higher than the recently departed Donaldson, and three points lower than Kyle Higashioka, a backstop no one will confuse with Jorge Posada at the dish.
Despite the offensive ineffectiveness, Bader remains All-World in center field. He ranks in the 95th percentile in Outs Above Average, the 92nd in Arm Strength, and the 88th in Outfielder Jump. For a playoff contender, there is definite value, if only as a late-game defensive specialist.
And he won’t break the bank if someone decides to claim him. Per Jeff Passan at ESPN, Darth Bader’s services can be obtained for a million bucks, a pittance in the grand scheme of things — especially if you’re trying to plug gaps on the path to a World Series. Should Bader be claimed, then the move bolsters the chances of seeing prospects Austin Wells and even the recently-promoted-to-Scranton Jasson Domínguez in September.
If this is the last we’ve seen of Darth Bader, to paraphrase Rick in Casablanca, “we’ll always have the 2022 ALDS.”