Plenty of fans are confused by the intricacies of MLB contract rules and strategy, and with good reason: It's a labyrinth of terms and technicalities. As it turns out, it's also quite the mystery at times even for the pros themselves — as we learned through a challenging Tuesday in the life of Yankees center fielder Harrison Bader.
— YES Network (@YESNetwork) August 30, 2023
Bader was placed on irrevocable waivers on Tuesday, and he learned the same way most fans did: via ESPN. Bader was watching the TV in the Yankees' clubhouse, and his immediate reaction was once again the same as that of many observers: What exactly do waivers mean?
As it turns out, teams have 48 hours to claim Bader's contract; and if anyone does, he would be eligible for their postseason roster. If nobody claims him, he will remain on the Yankees' roster, but that's a tough fate to imagine. He's a great defensive center fielder and went crazy with the bat last October, cranking five homers in 30 at-bats, earning an OPS (on-base plus slugging) over 1.200 and even dominating in the sweep at the hands of the Astros.
After learning more about the position he's in, Bader had to shake off the news and go play a baseball game, as he was still in the lineup hitting sixth and playing center. It's possible he was rattled, as he went 0-4 and made a rare error in center, although the Yanks did pick up a similarly rare win.
The move is probably very disheartening for Bader. He grew up just about a half-hour from Yankee Stadium and played his high school ball even closer at Bronx institution Horace Mann, and he was living his lifelong dream of wearing the pinstripes. In his postgame interview with YES Network's Meredith Marakovits, he stated that he'll "just be by [his] phone" — as will a swath of fans who will undoubtedly be eager to learn more about Bader's fate.
It's worth noting that the decision isn't really an indictment of Bader and his play. He's largely done his job after being brought in to be a glove-first center fielder. The Yankees are a terrible team this year, reaching all sorts of club lows that haven't been seen since the '80s, as they sit in last place with a losing record and no playoff hopes.
They're looking to shed some salary and perhaps create room to bring up prospects and give them a mini-audition. Everson Pereira and Oswald Peraza are already up, and there's speculation that phenom outfielder Jasson Dominguez could take Bader's spot if he's claimed. The team also outright released Josh Donaldson, eating some salary in that case but making a necessary move after the 37-year-old third baseman had one of the worst bats in the majors this season.
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