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Jordan Montgomery Traded For Harrison Bader - Fantasy Impact

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The Yankees and Cardinals executed one of the most surprising trades of the 2022 Trade Deadline when New York shipped LHP Jordan Montgomery to St. Louis for outfielder Harrison Bader in the final hour before the deadline. The trade left Montgomery, "pretty shocked," according to ESPN, and Montgomery is not the only one shocked as it's rare to see two contending teams make a one-for-one swap of Major Leaguers at the deadline.

What's more surprising, one of the players involved isn't currently healthy. Bader showed up to New York on Wednesday wearing a walking boot as the 28-year-old is dealing with planter fasciitis in his foot. The fact the Yankees traded for Bader is a vote of confidence that Bader will recover and play this season, but he didn't come cheap, as Montgomery has been a solid contributor in the Yankees' rotation en route to the best record in the American League thus far.

Ultimately, both teams felt the trade represented an upgrade. St. Louis - currently 1.5 games behind Milwaukee in the NL Central and in the thick of the Wild Card chase - needed more depth at starting pitcher as it preps for a fight to the finish to make the postseason. New York, on the other hand, has eyes on October as it sits 11 games ahead of Toronto in the AL East while sporting the best record in the AL.

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Long story short, Montgomery is an upgrade to the Cardinals starting rotation right now and Bader makes the Yankees better equipped to win in October. As for the fantasy impact of the deal, we'll break that down below as the RotoBaller team keeps you updated on all the breaking news and MLB trades as they relate to fantasy baseball.


Jordan Montgomery To St. Louis

Improvement In 2022

Part of the reason this deal came as such a surprise is Montgomery was a bit of a fan-favorite in the Bronx as he was a home-grown talent who became a fixture in the Yankee rotation after several years battling injuries, including missing most of 2018 & 2019 after Tommy John Surgery.

Overall, in six seasons with the Yankees, Montgomery was an asset, pitching to a sub-four ERA in over 500 innings in pinstripes. This season, Montgomery is sporting a solid 3.69 ERA and 1.10 WHIP, fully supported by strong underlying metrics. Montgomery's 3.91 FIP, 3.62 xFIP, and 3.72 SIERA all indicate he's been pitching better than any year in his career, despite the fact he only had three wins to show for it.

However, with a better ERA came fewer strikeouts for Montgomery. His 7.61 K/9 is down significantly from the past two seasons when he averaged over a strikeout-per-inning in both 2020 and 2021.

That being said, Monty is sporting career-highs in swinging-strike rate (14%) and called-plus-swinging strike rate (30%), with both metrics better than league average. This implies Montgomery has more strikeout upside than he's shown and he should rack up more K's down the stretch.

Park Upgrade

The most fantasy-relevant aspect of this deal is Montgomery moving from a hitter-friendly park to a pitcher-paradise in St. Louis. Yankee Stadium, famous for it's short porch in right field, ranks seventh in the Majors at boosting home runs, according to Statcast park factors. Overall, Yankee Stadium plays more neutral, ranking 17th in overall park factors, but it's no Busch Stadium.

The Cardinals' home park ranks as the fourth-most pitcher-friendly park overall and fifth-most pitcher-friendly park when it comes to neutralizing home runs. Throw in two of the best gloves in baseball gobbling up grounders on the St. Louis infield and the move to the Cards looks really nice for Montgomery's fantasy value.

Gold-glovers Tommy Edman and Nolan Arenado rank second and third, respectively in outs above average and they should certainly help a pitcher like Montgomery, who throw his sinker more than any other pitch.

Fantasy Verdict: Buy Montgomery where possible as his stock is up with this move.

Harrison Bader To Yankees

On the other end of the deal is gold-glove centerfielder Bader, who is joining his hometown team. Bader is a Bronx native and was not shy about expressing his excitement on getting to play with the Yankees, even though it meant ditching his flowing blond locks in favor of a more business-like haircut to play in New York.

Yankees GM Brian Cashman wanted to address the team's defense and certainly did so by adding a player he called, "One of the elite center fielders in the game," according to ESPN. That's high-praise for Bader, who will factor into the team's plans in 2023 as well.

For fantasy, however, this move doesn't affect Bader's value much. Yes, he'll get the benefit of playing in Yankee Stadium, but he'll likely wind up splitting at-bats with Aaron Hicks in center field, with the team also needing to play Andrew Benintendi, Aaron Judge, and Giancarlo Stanton in the outfield. Quick math reveals that's five bats for four lineup spots (including DH). Throw in the fact Bader is currently on the injured list and this move has little affect in the short-term for fantasy.

Fantasy Verdict: Hold. 

Final Thoughts

Montgomery is scheduled to make his Cardinals debut on Saturday August 5 against none other than the New York Yankees. Despite that game coming in Busch Stadium, fantasy managers may want to steer clear of Montgomery in that matchup facing a team that knows him intimately. Long-term, however, Montgomery should see an uptick in fantasy value moving to a better park with an elite defense behind him.

Bader seems unlikely to make much of an impact in 2022 for fantasy, though it's worth keeping an eye on his usage once he returns from the IL in September. However, he is under team control through 2023 and, given his elite defense, it's likely the Yankees view him as the starting center fielder moving forward as Hicks simply hasn't produced with the bat. He could be worth buying low in dynasty leagues given this move to New York.

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