The 2022 MLB trade deadline was quite hectic. Tons of big moves were made, and some teams changed their outlook for the rest of the 2022 campaign. One of the last big moves of the day was made between the New York Yankees and St. Louis Cardinals, which was a rare player-for-player swap.
The Yankees will pick up outfielder Harrison Bader from the Cardinals, while St. Louis will shore up their rotation with the addition of left-handed starter Jordan Montgomery. Both teams were able to fill areas of need in this swap, and it may be a mutually beneficial deal.
But which team will benefit more than other? Let's take a closer look at the trade and hand out final grades for each side to see who came out on top in the immediate aftermath of the deal.
Grading the Yankees-Cardinals trade deadline swap
New York Yankees
The Yankees entered the trade deadline knowing they needed some outfield help. Joey Gallo, who ended up getting dumped to the Los Angeles Dodgers, was hitting .159 on the season, and Aaron Hicks, despite playing solid defense, is hitting just .226 as well. If it weren't from the unexpected emergence of Matt Carpenter, New York's outfield would be in some real trouble.
The Yankees front office quickly swung a deal with the Kansas City Royals for Andrew Benintendi, seemingly shoring up the outfield. Benintendi could play in left field, Aaron Judge could patrol center, and Carpenter would hold onto his spot in right field since he's hitting .321 with 15 home runs and 36 RBIs in just 42 games.
Instead, New York added more reinforcements by picking up Harrison Bader in this deal with the Cardinals. Bader is a solid defensive outfielder who is having a down year at the plate (.256 BA, 5 HR, 21 RBI, .673 OPS) but possesses traits in speed and fielding that the Yankees outfield currently doesn't have much of.
Picking up Bader after adding Benintendi just doesn't make a ton of sense. Hicks already seemed like he might be headed for the bench with the arrival of Benintendi, and now they are adding Bader without really have a spot in the outfield for him. They could move Carpenter to his old position at third base and send the struggling Josh Donaldson to the bench, but even then you still have one of Hicks or Bader on the bench most nights.
Sending away Montgomery also makes little sense for New York here. The Yankees were already short on starters after Luis Severino was sent to the 60-day injured list, and now they don't have a fifth starter in their rotation. It's also worth noting their bullpen is already short on arms, with top guys like Michael King, Miguel Castro, and Chad Green all on the injured list too.
Final Grade: D+
Bader has upside, but this feels like a very questionable move for the Yankees. They didn't really need any more help in the outfield, and actually could have used more pitching instead. But they opted to send one of their most consistent starters to a pitcher-needy team in the Cardinals in exchange for an outfielder who probably won't be in the starting lineup every night. All-in-all, this wasn't the greatest move from New York.
St. Louis Cardinals
On the other hand, the Cardinals got quite a bang for their buck here. They went into the deadline knowing their rotation needed help. After missing out on Juan Soto, the Cards switched their attention back to pitching after making a deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates for Jose Quintana on Monday. They got their fifth starter in Montgomery without having to give up much in return.
St. Louis has recently been without two of their top five starters in Jack Flaherty and Steven Matz, and basically went into the deadline with three true starters on their roster. They added a pair of starters in Quintana and Montgomery that will fill out the back of the rotation in Flaherty and Matz's absences. Montgomery isn't the flashiest pitcher (3-3, 3.69 ERA, 97 K, 1.10 WHIP) but he's exactly the type of pitcher the Cardinals need.
This goes without mentioning they only had to give up Bader to land Jordan Montgomery. They can easily insert one of their top young guns in Nolan Gorman into a starting role after they ended up not trading him in a deal for Soto. They also have young guys like Juan Yepez (currently on the injured list) and Lars Nootbaar on the bench, allowing manager Oliver Marmol to mix and match his outfield alignments on a nightly basis.
Final Grade: A-
Whereas the Yankees dealt from an area of weakness to address an outfield unit they already added to, the Cardinals dealt from an area of strength to address a weakness. They didn't need Bader anymore after they realized they were going to hold onto Gorman, and they were probably overjoyed to be able to pick up a pitcher like Montgomery for Bader straight up. Montgomery can be a bit inconsistent, but he's better than their other available options, making this a clear win for St. Louis.