Why Yankees Traded Jordan Montgomery to Cardinals for Harrison Bader

A day after trading for Frankie Montas to bolster their rotation, the Yankees pulled off one of their most consistent starters just before the trading deadline.

The Yankees sent lefty Jordan Montgomery to the Cardinals on Tuesday in exchange for outfielder Harrison Bader and a later named player or money considerations.

Bader is currently on the injured list with plantar fasciitis and in a hiking boot. That could delay his Yankees debut until September, general manager Brian Cashman said. When Bader is available, the Yankees will have a strong defensive midfielder and a speed threat who is also under contract next season.

But it came at the expense of Montgomery, the homegrown pitcher who was visibly emotional and still in shock, about an hour after the transaction failed.

“I didn’t take over Montas to be able to move Monty,” Cashman said after the deadline passed. “My staff and I went into the trade acquisition market of exports and imports to find out the overall ecosystem of that roster and what best fits an October plan and how best to fly high when it comes down to the most in October and what gives us the most quality choices? That’s what went into every decision we’ve made.

Jordan Montgomery
Jordan Montgomery
Corey Sipkin

“So we are excited about what Bader can do for us. We have to wait and see, we get that. But it came at the cost of a quality choice we already had.”

The trade capped off a busy few days for Cashman – who filled in gaps in left field (Andrew Benintendi), the rotation (Montas) and the bullpen (Scott Effross and Lou Trivino), while also trading Joey Gallo for the Dodgers.

“Most of it is just that sadness of seeing a man [leave] that you love and that you’ve been through a lot with and that’s done a lot for this team and this organization,” said manager Aaron Boone after an 8-6 loss to the Mariners. “Coming out of nowhere today where that’s happening, it’s hard to deliver that news and say goodbye.”

Even after taking over Montas from the Athletics on Monday, the Yankees continued to look to add a new starting pitcher before the deadline, Cashman said. Joel Sherman of The Post and Jon Heyman reported that the Yankees were in on Marlins righthander Pablo Lopez, although a deal never came to fruition.

Instead, the Yankees will continue with a rotation of Gerrit Cole, Montas, Jameson Taillon, Nestor Cortes and Domingo German before hoping for a healthy Luis Severino to join them in mid-September when he qualifies to finish the 60-day IL to come. They also have another option in Clarke Schmidt at Triple-A, although in recent days they have wiped out much of their starting depth beyond that in trades.

“I am sure [in the rotation]Kasman said. “My job is always to worry, but I believe in the guys we have.”

Harrison Bader
Harrison Bader
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Montgomery, who was drafted by the organization in 2014, looked crushed not to be part of that rotation.

“This is my family. This is all I know,” said Montgomery, who had a 3.69 to 21 ERA this season. “I still don’t think I’ve ever performed here the way I should have. a much better player than I’ve ever shown to the fans. But I think I was consistent and gave the team a chance to win.”

The Yankees could meet Montgomery in St. Louis this weekend, as he in turn would pitch to them.

But they’ll have to wait for Bader, who called Cashman “one of the elite midfield defenders in the game.” His presence allows the Yankees Aaron Judge to play more consistently in right field. Born in Bronxville who won a gold glove in 2021, 28-year-old Bader hit .256/.303/.370 this year with 15 steals in 72 games.

The Yankees came in on Tuesday with the best record in baseball, but that didn’t make Cashman steadfast.

“Ultimately, our record through August 2 won’t guarantee us anything in October,” Cashman said. “It’s collecting talent, keeping it healthy and playing to the maximum. Just because we played exceptional baseball until August 1, doesn’t mean we can sit back and assume it will stay that way.”

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