New York Yankees: Clock is ticking for Harrison Bader’s return

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - JUNE 22: Harrison Bader #48 of the St. Louis Cardinals swings at a pitch against the Milwaukee Brewers at American Family Field on June 22, 2022 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Cardinals defeated the Brewers 5-4. (Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - JUNE 22: Harrison Bader #48 of the St. Louis Cardinals swings at a pitch against the Milwaukee Brewers at American Family Field on June 22, 2022 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Cardinals defeated the Brewers 5-4. (Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images) /
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Exactly what will the New York Yankees get from Harrison Bader in 2022 and what kind of impact can he have on their postseason run? That question will likely begin to be answered next week.

Can Harrison Bader make a big splash with the New York Yankees?

Acquired at the trade deadline from the St. Louis Cardinals for starting pitcher Jordan Montgomery, the 28-year-old Bader has begun a rehab assignment with Double-A Somerset in the hopes of getting back in baseball shape after being placed on the 60-day injured list on June 27 with plantar fasciitis.

The trade was a gamble for the Yankees as Bader’s timeline for return from the foot ailment was a little murky. However, if all goes well in his current rehab assignment, the outfielder could join the Yankees as soon as September 20 when the team begins a six-game homestand with the Pittsburgh Pirates and Boston Red Sox visiting the Bronx.

In his first game with Somerset on Sunday, Bader went 1-for-3 and plated a run.

Bader is one of several Yankees who were a part of the Double-A Somerset arsenal over the weekend, with pitchers Zack Britton, Miguel Castro, and Aroldis Chapman also getting time on the mound.

The Montgomery-Bader trade has worked out very well for the Cardinals, but Yankees fans are hoping that Bader can not only provide a spark at the plate, but also provide a solid defensive presence in the outfield as well. With one Gold Glove already in his trophy case, it’s possible, but Bader has admitted that there is “definitely discomfort” in his right foot. If he is able to push through the pain, Bader could provide some relief for Aaron Judge in center field and push Aaron Hicks out of regular duty.

Bader was slashing .303/.370/.673 in 264 plate appearances before being after a June 26 game against the Chicago Cubs. That kind of pop in the lineup would be a welcome sight for a New York Yankees team that enters Monday’s action with a 5.5-game lead over the Tampa Bay Rays in the American League East standings.

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So far, the Bader-Montgomery trade has been very lopsided in favor of St. Louis. However, if Bader can bring new energy and production to the Yankees as the regular season winds down and the postseason shapes up, the pain in the Bronx of the past few weeks resulting from the swap may be eased considerably.