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Free Agent Profile: Former Gold Glove winner Harrison Bader is a defence-first option for the outfield

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Brennan Delaney
3 months ago
Assuming Kevin Kerimaier was a one-and-done, the Blue Jays are going to need to add another outfielder or two this winter.
This is a free agent profile, where we take a look at the players on the open market this winter and whether or not they would be fits for the Blue Jays. In this article, we’re going to take a look at Harrison Bader, a Gold Glove-winning outfielder.

Harrison Bader’s 2023:

In 2023, Bader spent time with the New York Yankees and the Cincinnati Reds. He slashed .232/.274/.348 with seven home runs, along with a 4.9 BB% and a 17.2 K% in 344 plate appearances. In terms of his centre field defence, Bader had 4 Defensive Runs Saved and 9 Outs Above Average.
This wasn’t even close to Bader’s best career season, however. In 2018, he slashed .264/.334/.422 with 12 home runs in 427 plate appearances, along with 16 DRS and 19 OAA for his highest career fWAR of 4.1. In 2021,  Bader slashed .267/.324/.460 with a career-high 16 home runs in 401 plate appearances. On top of arguably his best season with the bat (his K% dropped to 21.2 from the high-20s), Bader also had a 15 DRS and 14 OAA in 886.2 innings fielding in the outfield.
For his career, Bader is slashing .243/.310/.396 with 59 home runs in 2108 plate appearances. He has accumulated 12.9 fWAR, 52 DRS and 68 OAA in 4668 innings fielded in the outfield, most of which in centre field, as he hasn’t played a corner outfield position since 2018.

Harrison Bader’s contract:

From Jim Bowden’s contract predictions article in The Athletic, the former general manager believes that Bader will earn $8 million on a one-year deal. On the other hand, MLB Trade Rumors has him making $20 million over two seasons for an annual salary of $10 million.
For the sake of comparison, the Blue Jays signed Kevin Kiermaier last winter to a one-year, $9 million contract, which is pretty similar to Bowden’s suggestion for Bader. That said, these situations are different, as Kiermaier was older and coming off of a significant injury, so Bader might be able to command multiple years on a contract despite his poor showing offensively.

Is Harrison Bader a fit for the Blue Jays:

If the Jays were able to sign Bader, he’d make an excellent platoon option with Daulton Varsho and would help maintain the elite defence the team had in the outfield in 2023. 
Unlike Varsho, the right-handed hitting Bader excels against left-handed pitching, as he’s slashed a .262/.330/.494 for in 523 plate appearances against left-handed hurlers for his career, significantly better than his stats against righty pitchers. 
That said, while Bader would be a good fit in terms of Toronto’s defence and speed strategy, he wouldn’t move the needle in terms of making the lineup much stronger than it was last year. Adding Bader would be a run-prevention move and there would still have to be other additions who help improve the team’s slugging.

As always, you can follow me on Twitter, Instagram, and Threads @Brennan_L_D.

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