The clouds have parted, and the previously opaque 2022 deadline trade of Harrison Bader from the St. Louis Cardinals to the New York Yankees for Jordan Montgomery has become more transparent. Cardinals fans can exhale, as their team appears to have gotten the better end of this deal after the Yankees placed Bader on irrevocable waivers on Aug. 29. He has since been claimed by the Cincinnati Reds.
Bader, a fan favorite in St. Louis with his ebullient personality and long blond locks of hair (until the Yankees forced him to cut it under their archaic grooming policy), couldn't cut the mustard offensively under the bright lights of his hometown borough of the Bronx. The Cardinals traded Bader after he battled plantar fasciitis, and injuries continued to plague him with the Yankees, with oblique and hamstring issues leading to two injured list stints this season.
Bader had his moments in pinstripes, especially in the playoffs last season, where he hit five home runs in nine games, but his overall numbers with the Yankees weren't pretty, as he has hit .239 with a career-low .640 OPS this season. For the Cardinals, Montgomery pitched to a 3.31 ERA in 184.2 innings between last year's and this year's trade deadlines and helped anchor a patchwork rotation.
The Cardinals dealt Montgomery to the Texas Rangers at the 2023 trade deadline for three players, and that's where the Bader trade could really bear fruit.
The players the Cardinals received for Montgomery were minor league pitcher Tekoah Roby, minor league infielder Thomas Saggese and major league pitcher John King. Saggese has been scorching since the deal, hitting .354 with a 1.152 OPS in 96 at-bats with Double-A Springfield, and although Roby has only pitched one game upon return from an injury, he was very strong in his three innings of work, striking out six batters and allowing one earned run. King was a throw-in who likely doesn't have much of a future with the team, but he has only allowed one earned run in 8.2 innings with the Cardinals.
The simple one-for-one swap of Bader for Montgomery was an easy one for fans of both sides to jump on and judge, but the Yankees are about to give up on Bader and get nothing in return while the Cardinals have a chance to reap the rewards of some promising prospects. Montgomery could soon be seen as the middle man in a lopsided trade in favor of St. Louis. John Mozeliak and his crew are easy to criticize, but the Cardinals' front office deserves kudos for this one.