The Cardinals have gone quiet since signing their three starting pitchers in November. The bullpen is the area they need to address now.
However, one former Cardinal was on the move yesterday morning. Andy Martino of SNY reported that the Mets had signed Harrison Bader to a one-year, $10.5 million contract.
Bader was a third-round draft pick for the Cardinals in 2015. He was taken at No. 100 by the Cardinals. Two years later, the Cardinals called him up for his first cup of coffee. By the end of the 2018 season, Bader had emerged as the Cardinals starting center fielder.
He struggled offensively in 2019 and 2020 before finding his form again in 2021. That year, he was one of five Cardinals to win a Gold Glove, joining Paul Goldschmidt, Nolan Arenado, Tommy Edman, and Tyler O’Neill.
Sadly, injuries have somewhat derailed his career. He went on the IL twice in 2021 and hit the IL again in 2022 before the Cardinals traded him to the Yankees for Jordan Montgomery.
Bader went from the Yankees to the Reds at the end of the season and was in St. Louis for Adam Wainwright’s retirement ceremony. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough time for Bader to get up on the podium and say something to his old teammate.
I think it would have been nice to see Bader get the opportunity to bid farewell to Wainwright. Several of his old teammates were there, including Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina. I didn’t realize it until after the season was over that Bader was in town but didn’t play because of an injury. I was also bummed that he didn’t get to say something to Wainwright.
The Mets come to town on May 6 for a three-game series. If Bader is healthy, he’ll certainly get a nice warm hand from the Busch Stadium crowd, as all opposing players do when they return to St. Louis, save for Jason Heyward of course.
But it’s a good thing that Bader is back in the National League. Obviously, the Cardinals focus this offseason was pitching, so I knew there was no chance of them signing Bader. But with him being back in the National League, he’ll have an opportunity to make an appearance at Busch, and that’s something we’ll have to look forward to.
Though not a household name in St. Louis, Bader was a fan favorite and was always someone I enjoyed watching patrol center field. Perhaps one day a reunion could be had.