Harrison Bader’s next destination likely to be any of these six teams

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The Yankees are accelerating their rebuilding efforts, making significant changes to their roster. On Tuesday, they released Josh Donaldson and signaled about moving away from standout center fielder Harrison Bader.

Reports indicate that Harrison Bader has been placed on waivers. Despite being on the waiver wire, the New York native remains a part of the Yankees’ roster for now, as they await to see if another team claims him. Despite not being in the starting lineup for two out of the last four games, Harrison Bader was included in manager Aaron Boone’s lineup for the game against the Detroit Tigers, where he was placed sixth and played in center field.

With the Yankees holding a 63-68 record and 31 games left in the season following their 4-1 victory against the Detroit Tigers, the team embarked on a recent youth movement by promoting two prospects from Triple-A to assume regular roles. Everson Pereira joined in left field, while Oswald Peraza took over at third base, which was previously occupied by Donaldson.

Yankees ready to drop Harrison Bader

Similar to Donaldson, Harrison Bader experienced a relatively brief career marked by injuries and periods of performance downturn. However, Harrison Bader made more notable contributions, particularly during the Yankees’ truncated postseason campaign last year, where he managed to hit five home runs in just nine games.

Harrison Bader entered Tuesday’s match with a batting average of .242, along with seven home runs and 37 RBIs across 82 games. However, recent statistics revealed a slump in his performance, as he went 0-for-13 in his last five games and posted a meager .109 batting average with a single RBI in 15 games since August 12. The 29-year-old’s season had a rough start, as he was on the injured list for the Yankees’ initial 30 games due to an oblique strain, and he missed an additional 16 games in June because of a hamstring injury.

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The Yankees’ acquisition of Harrison Bader on the trade deadline of August 2, 2022, came as a surprise since they traded left-hander Jordan Montgomery to secure a player who was sidelined with a foot injury at the time. The team’s motivation behind the deal was to enhance their defensive capabilities in center field, replacing Aaron Hicks who had lost his starting position. Harrison Bader, known for his spectacular catches, fulfilled that role. Hailing from Bronxville, New York, just a short distance from Yankee Stadium, Harrison Bader finally made his debut for the Yankees on September 20, 2022, precisely seven weeks after the trade. His initial month was challenging, as he recorded a batting average of .217 with no home runs in 14 games. However, he emerged as one of the Yankees’ most reliable hitters during the playoffs.

Should Harrison Bader’s departure materialize, the Yankees are likely to promote 20-year-old switch-hitter Jasson Dominguez to take over center-field duties in September. With September call-up day approaching, the Yankees can expand their roster from 26 to 28 players, allowing prospects like catcher Austin Wells to potentially receive their first call-up.

All the remaining 29 Major League Baseball teams will have a chance to place claims on the waived players, thereby assuming the remainder of their contract obligations before the September 1 deadline for setting the playoff rosters. In the event that a player is claimed prior to September 1, they would become eligible to participate in the postseason.

The distribution of claims adheres to a reverse hierarchy based on winning percentage. In essence, teams with the lowest records will be given the initial opportunity to select players from the pool of waived individuals.

Bader’s top six destinations

Harrison Bader at Yankee Stadium. He remains red hot this season.

Harrison Bader finds himself on irrevocable waivers, opening up the possibility for him to join a different team’s postseason roster if a contender decides to claim him before September 1. In such a scenario, the acquiring team would also need to take on the remainder of Harrison Bader’s 2023 salary, which amounts to approximately $783,000 out of his total $4.7 million contract.

This setup increases the likelihood of Harrison Bader participating in the postseason, potentially becoming a beneficial outcome for the Yankees. In the event that Bader successfully passes through waivers, the Yankees have the option to retain him for the remainder of the season or release him outright, following the pattern set with Donaldson.

Harrison Bader’s profile is intriguing due to his exceptional skills as a center-field defender, even though he struggles as a hitter, particularly against right-handed pitchers. It might be wise to proceed with caution, though I can envision a scenario where he could return on a one-year contract if he’s open to accepting the qualifying offer. Given his history of injuries, he could prioritize long-term security over an inflated one-year salary.

#1. Toronto Blue Jays

The Toronto Blue Jays are facing challenges following the departure of their standout All-Star outfielder Teoscar Hernandez, who was traded to the Mariners as part of an offseason transaction involving young pitchers. Adding to their concerns, center fielder George Springer is currently batting at a mere .209 throughout the season. In this context, a player like Harrison Bader, with valuable big-league experience, could prove beneficial for the team. This might offer a potential solution, especially considering the presence of young talent like Daulton Varsho.

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#2. Baltimore Orioles

Exceeding initial expectations, the Baltimore Orioles have been performing beyond anticipated levels this season. Despite initial perceptions of them as a team in the midst of rebuilding with a few years to go before becoming competitive, the Orioles have managed to secure a second-place position in the AL East division. Given his proficiency in steals, Harrison Bader’s inclusion could seamlessly align with the team’s agile outfield members, such as Cedric Mullins.

#3. Chicago Cubs

With a tenure spanning five and a half seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals, Harrison Bader possesses an in-depth familiarity with the NL Central division that sets him apart from many others. The resurgent Chicago Cubs could view Harrison Bader as an appealing prospect, especially considering the potential departure of Cody Bellinger.

#4. Texas Rangers

The Texas Rangers are fully committed to securing a World Series championship in Arlington. With significant free-agent signings like Corey Seager, Marcus Semien, and Jacob deGrom, their aggressive pursuit of talent seems unlikely to wane.

Harrison Bader is at the Yankees vs. Rays game at Yankee Stadium on Aug 2, 2023.
NYY

Harrison Bader might find himself prominently featured on the Rangers’ list of desired free agents. His potential addition could infuse power into the latter part of the batting order while also offering valuable speed on the bases.

#5. Dodgers

It’s truly remarkable that the Dodgers, a powerhouse in the baseball realm, find themselves with a noticeable void in center field. This isn’t a minor gap either; for a team accustomed to reaching and triumphing in the World Series, it’s a substantial concern. Many of their key components are still in place, boasting formidable pitching and impressive hitting prowess. What remains is the addition of a single superstar like Harrison Bader to solidify their unparalleled dominance.

#6. San Diego Padres

When analyzing the Padres on paper, it’s evident that they could benefit from bolstering their catching position. However, the prevalent practice of employing catcher rotations across many teams mitigates the urgency of this concern. Situated in the upper echelons of the league across critical aspects—speed, defense, pitching, contact, and power—the Padres showcase a well-rounded profile. Their primary focus leans toward securing a standout center fielder, such as Harrison Bader, who can adeptly get on base for their power hitters.

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