Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

The Cincinnati Reds have claimed center fielder Harrison Bader after the Yankees waived him earlier this week. ESPN’s Jeff Passan had the news first.

Bader, a Bronxville native, was acquired from the St. Louis Cardinals for Jordan Montgomery at last year’s trade deadline. The move drew controversy since Bader was then on the 60-day injured list with a foot injury.

And at first, Bader looked worth the wait. Not only did he play elite defense in center field, but his bat looked sharp too. He hit five postseason home runs while batting .400. All signs pointed to a successful full season with the Yankees in 2023.

But unfortunately for Harrison Bader, the injury bug reared its ugly head again. He missed time this year with hamstring and oblique injuries and his bat has all but disappeared. He’s batting just .240 on the year with a .643 OPS and, even worse, his on-base percentage is an awful .285.

It suddenly makes sense why the Yankees waived him and are promoting prospect Jasson Dominguez instead.

Bader, meanwhile, returns to a division he knows well. He spent his first five-and-a-half years in St. Louis and is a .294 career hitter in Cincinnati’s Great American Ballpark. It’s a surreal moment for Bader too, as he’s hit .297 against the Reds for his career.

But it makes perfect sense, baseball-wise. The Reds desperately need outfield help and have started six different center fielders this year. TJ Friedl leads the way 91 and has a solid glove himself, but is a lefty bat. Perhaps manager David Bell plans to only play Bader versus lefties?

Regardless, the Yankees needed to unload Harrison Bader. He wasn’t playing well enough to factor into future plans. Furthermore, this is his contract year and there’s no way the Yankees would have extended him a qualifying offer. Better for him to try and succeed with the Reds and hope it attracts enough teams in free agency.

Josh Benjamin has been a staff writer at ESNY since 2018. He has had opinions about everything, especially the Yankees and Knicks. He co-hosts the “Bleacher Creatures” podcast and is always looking for new pieces of sports history to uncover, usually with a Yankee Tavern chicken parm sub in hand.