But the ability to look back fondly doesn't make the clubhouse's discomfort last summer any less real.
As it turns out, Bader's tenure in the Bronx started almost exactly as Brian Cashman envisioned it would, a point illuminated by Bryan Hoch in a snippet from his new book 62: Aaron Judge, the New York Yankees and the Pursuit of Greatness. Cashman and the medical team believed Bader's boot would be shed by the end of the summer, and he'd be able to ramp up in September and be a postseason force.
The front office was correct. Bader returned to action in the season's final month. He had more of a playoff impact than Montgomery likely would've, even though Frankie Montas, a driving force in Cashman flipping the switch and accepting the deal, was rarely heard from in the second half. But still ... these are people.
Cashman patted himself on the back in the aftermath of the trade, telling Hoch, "I'm not sure how many GMs would be willing to take that risk." Maybe knowing you have a gig for life helps? Either way, congrats on the result, but that doesn't make it easy to forget Montgomery choking back tears. Cashman was clearly thrown off in the moment, too, unable to even blurt out to Monty who he'd been traded for.
Yankees' trade of Jordan Montgomery led directly to one loss in 2022
One loss can be directly pinned on this last-second deal; Jameson Taillon lost a best friend that afternoon, then was told to start three hours later. It went disastrously. It doesn't take much mental math to draw the one-for-one connection.
Montgomery experienced a rebirth in St. Louis, throwing a dazzling complete game at the end of August to cap his revival. From that point forward, he's looked ... well, almost exactly like he looked in New York. He sports a 3.52 ERA in 2023 alongside a 3.51 FIP. What you see, and what you think you should see, are exactly what you get. Rock solid, and slightly better in the NL Central.
After the season, though, both Bader and Montgomery will hit free agency, their futures once again uncertain. The center fielder? He'll more than likely return to New York. The lefty? He's got a better chance of reuniting with Taillon in Chicago. Get on Cashman all you want for his many other high-profile failures, as well as poisoning the locker room in the month of August, but he got the man he wanted here, and may have kept the Yankees' outfield from teetering off the brink.
Montgomery may have cried last year, but we'd all be crying a lot more if Estevan Florial were the Yankees' starting center fielder all summer.