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Mets sign ex-Yankees OF Harrison Bader to one-year deal: source

Harrison Bader is on his way to Queens. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)
Harrison Bader is on his way to Queens. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

Harrison Bader is the latest former Yankee to make the jump from the Bronx to Queens.

A source confirmed to the Daily News that the Mets and the outfielder have agreed on a one-year, $10.5 million contract. Bader will join right-handed starter Luis Severino and manager Carlos Mendoza as the third person with Yankees ties to join the Mets this winter.

Bader, a 29-year-old Bronxville native who spent parts of the 2022 and 2023 seasons with the Yankees, is an elite center fielder when healthy. Since 2018, he’s prevented 59 runs and leads all center fielders with 66 outs above average. However, the former Florida Gator has struggled to stay healthy throughout his career.

The St. Louis Cardinals traded Bader to the Yankees in 2022 while he was on the injured list with plantar fasciitis. Bader has also struggled with hamstring and oblique injuries throughout his career. In seven major league seasons, Bader owns a slashline of .243/.310/.396 with 59 home runs.

It’s unclear what this means for Brandon Nimmo, who transformed himself into a top center fielder and signed a long-term contract with the Mets last season with the hope of sticking with the same position for the foreseeable future. Nimmo finished with zero outs above average last season, but the number is misleading.

Nimmo made several difficult plays and pitchers praised his ability and his determination to make them. There were times when the Mets’ defense as a whole fell apart and Nimmo was not immune. The Mets have discussed having Nimmo play some left field to mitigate injury concerns, but it’s not often that a franchise player is moved to another position.

The signing of Bader may bring up some questions about Nimmo’s defensive usage, but it’s unlikely that he will move to left field full-time. Bader simply gives Mendoza another defensive option.

The outfield is getting crowded with Nimmo, Bader, Tyrone Taylor, Starling Marte and DJ Stewart, but playing time typically tends to work itself out. Taylor is versatile and can play all three outfield positions and Stewart will see time as a designated hitter. President of baseball operations David Stearns has emphasized run prevention and this move shows that commitment.

Bader played high school baseball at the Horace Mann School in Riverdale and college baseball with Pete Alonso at Florida. He has proven that he can handle the spotlight of his hometown, something Stearns values highly.