Unless there's the plan of all plans the New York Yankees are about to execute at the trade deadline that fans are completely unaware of, this current team, as constructed, is not good enough and will never be good enough to win a World Series.
The closest it came was 2019. Then you could say 2022, but getting swept in the ALCS doesn't exactly suggest you were ever a "real" contender. New York barely scraped by the Cleveland Guardians in the ALDS, after all.
But for a moment there, it appeared as if the right pieces fell into place, the Bombers could make a run in 2024. This season never felt like "the year," but a full campaign featuring Harrison Bader, Carlos Rodón, Anthony Volpe and Oswaldo Cabrera felt like it could set the table for a promising next few years.
Turns out ... nope! Rodón has made only three starts. Volpe still needs work -- a lot of it. Cabrera either regressed or isn't who we thought he was. And Bader is constantly injured (but that's nothing new, he was before Brian Cashman decided to trade for him! And he was acquired while he was injured!).
Injuries aside, however, Bader, in limited time, very much proved he was in irreplaceable spark plug. The Yankees don't win the 2022 ALDS without him. When he returned from the IL earlier this year, he was the definition of a difference maker. He got timely hits. He brought the energy in the dugout. He started rallies. He stepped up when everyone else went to sleep. "Extend this man!" everyone all but demanded.
Is it even worth it for the Yankees to extend Harrison Bader anymore?
Two injuries later, though, in conjunction with the rest of the team looking as incapable as every other last-place team in MLB, is it even worth it to extend Bader? Originally, many fans (including us) didn't even see a risk with his injury history. He was never expected to command a sizable contract, and the impact he had during his time on the field surely would've been worth whatever the market determined his value was.
But it seems Bader's caught the Yankees' flu. You haven't seen a jovial Bader clip in quite some time. He's now OPSing .698 with a 91 OPS+ mark. Once upon a time for a stretch, he was the Yankees' most important hitter. Now you can't even tell he's there.
Unless, of course, he's doing whatever this is (we still haven't figured out why or how this happened):
If Bader's going to fall off the map like the rest of the team's completely frivolous collection of players, then how does that make him indispensable beyond 2023? Wouldn't you rather just see what the organization's other young outfielders can do? Why spend any more money when there are already countless contracts weighing down this team's payroll?
There's still time to discern whether he might be a veteran worth keeping, especially if the Yankees plan some sort of exodus with their other underperforming and expensive names, but as the losses keep piling up, it's worth wondering if anybody is worthy of a supporting role alongside Aaron Judge moving forward.