Grading Yankees' Harrison Bader/Jordan Montgomery Trade
Now: B+ Pending Bader Extension, and a Win-Win
The low grade on this trade was wholly deserved at the time. Sacrificing pitching depth, willingly, for a team that needed more pitching and is historically injured, was a wild gamble. Fittingly, the Yankees lost Montas and Nestor Cortes Jr. soon after, with Luis Severino still on the shelf. All this, and the man they acquired in return was injured and out 'til September? D might've been kind. Oh, and the chemistry killing! This also killed team morale. Right.
But ... lost in the anger cycle was the fact that we know Jordan Montgomery. We know he is a mid-tier starting pitcher with relatively low annual ERAs, relatively low swing-and-miss, and relatively low trust levels entering a postseason series. Montgomery would be helping the Yankees eat innings right now. He would also occasionally be allowing seven runs in an inning, as he did to the upstart Diamondbacks earlier this week. He is a fine pitcher who plays up in the NL Central -- and, it should be mentioned, lasted only 2.2 innings and walked 3 in last year's postseason.
Bader? He became a Yankees postseason legend last October when he drilled three home runs against Cleveland and two against Houston. He embodied what New York City still believes itself to be: hard work. speed, and a little bit of deserved flash.
If you'd asked me to reevaluate this trade in March, I would've enthusiastically bumped it a tick or two. Now that the oft-injured Bader is rehabbing again, I'm less bullish on the obvious win (especially since the Yankees' rotation is still hurting).
You know, when an executive or writer attempts to evaluate a win-win deal and calls it a "good baseball trade"? Think Luis Arraez for Pablo López. Sure, it hurts to lose either player, but need-for-need ... it turns out alright.
Trading Montgomery for Bader was a bad baseball trade. The Yankees needed reliable starting pitching. They still do. The Cardinals had too many outfielders. They still do. They were happy to pawn Bader off on the Yanks.
And yet ... win-win. Pretty safe win-win. Talk about bad process leading to unexpected results.