It’s too early to lament the St. Louis Cardinals’ Harrison Bader trade
New York Yankees outfielder Harrison Bader is tearing it up in the postseason, but St. Louis Cardinals fans shouldn’t despair over his departure yet.
For St. Louis Cardinals fans, the 2022 American League Division Series has felt a lot like the 2020 postseason: a dagger to the heart. While in 2020, former Cardinal Randy Arozarena put on a historic performance to lead the Tampa Bay Rays to the World Series, in 2022 Harrison Bader has been a sparkplug for the New York Yankees, hitting three home runs in the ALDS so far.
It’s a natural reaction among many fans to feel that it’s another trade gone awry, but it’s far too early to proclaim that the sky is falling. The trade of Sandy Alcantara and Zac Gallen (among others) to the Miami Marlins for Marcell Ozuna still lingers in many fans’ heads like a frustratingly catchy tune, and that, compounded with the Arozarena deal, has led fans to be on high alert after any major trade.
First, let’s think about whom the Cardinals received in that deal. Jordan Montgomery was a stellar piece in the team’s rotation after the deadline, especially in his first seven starts. While he was shakier to close out the season, he has likely secured a rotation spot for 2023 and has a chance to be very good in the role.
The Cardinals trading from a position of weakness in the outfield is a fair reason for criticism, but Bader was recovering from plantar fasciitis when he was traded, a dangerous injury for a player like him who relies on his speed. It made sense that the Cardinals might not have wanted to wait and see if he could still play effectively, which could risk torpedoing his trade value.
Although Bader has excelled in the postseason to this point, it’s been a very small sample size; he only played in four regular season games with the Yankees, so while Yankees fans moaned about Montgomery’s success in his first few Cardinals outings, Cardinals fans should wait before judging the trade as a front office failure.
During the 2020 season, I deemed the swap of Luke Voit for Chasen Shreve and Giovanny Gallegos to be a terrible result for the Cardinals, but Voit hasn’t come close to his 2020 numbers, while Gallegos has become a rock-solid bullpen piece. That’s to say that we need to wait to figure out how the trade affects the teams in the coming years.
Maybe the trade ends up working out for both sides. It’s easy to play the “grass is greener on the other side” game, but if both players can be successful for their teams, there’s no reason to anguish over another player who got away.