Every so often, an MLB trade deadline stunner stops you in your tracks and leaves you wondering not only, “How will this help … anyone?” but also, “Who … comes up with that?” like you’ve just watched the most twisted Jackass stunt possible. The Yankees‘ Jordan Montgomery trade with the St. Louis Cardinals, just before Tuesday’s buzzer, evoked those exact feelings.
Instead of being given a concrete conclusion to an otherwise excellent deadline, though, Yankees fans were left waiting for the other shoe to drop — you know, like a Jackass stunt. That shoe never came, leaving a deal so strange that many assumed Brian Cashman had been bamboozled.
The final hours of the Yankees’ deadline were littered with bombshell rumors, only for all of those strands to peter out and leave one last completely-unmentioned deal. Suddenly, Gleyber Torres was being discussed in trade talks. In a flash, Carlos Rodón seemed available, and a Pablo Lopez deal with the Marlins was gaining momentum just as the Dodgers dipped out of the bidding.
Just before time ran out — and just as the Lopez rumors crested — two tweets hit the timeline with painful synchronicity. First, the Yankees swapped Montgomery for Harrison Bader, currently on the IL in a walking boot, signaling that Domingo German would become their No. 5 starter down the stretch … unless …
Nope. Mark Feinsand revealed seconds prior that the building Lopez chatter had led to nothing. The Yankees’ “new starter” was staying put, leaving them simply … without one.
Did Yankees think they were getting Marlins’ Pablo Lopez at trade deadline?
As Jack Curry and many others theorized, the Harrison Bader swap was more about the postseason than the regular season. The speedy defensive wizard is battling foot problems (the return of “foot stuff”?) now, but should theoretically be ready by September — and, if he never plays this season, the Yankees receive an additional PTBNL! Hey, alright!
But planning for October — which the Yankees can and should be doing — didn’t need to come at the expense of sacrificing August and September. The Yankees have now intentionally inserted the nearly-useless German into their rotation, with hopes that Clarke Schmidt may soon rise again to claim the No. 5 spot. But when?
The team is planning for a playoff rotation of Gerrit Cole, Frankie Montas, Luis Severino, and Nestor Cortes, but they’re doing so without a sliver of a margin for error. If one of those players gets injured, or if Severino has a setback, they’ll enter October without a net. If Montgomery was a completely untrustworthy safety net, then what was he doing on the Yankees on Opening Day? Wasn’t he a better option in a pinch than the homer-prone German?
Nothing about this tracks, unless Cashman believed he had a done deal with the Marlins for Lopez, only to learn he’d been swindled after he gave the thumbs up to the Cardinals. He’ll never admit as much — why would he? — but this trade exclusively makes sense as a gaffe.
Swapping Montgomery is something you do in the offseason, not at 70-34 while facing rotation depth issues.