Sources: Bader back to N.Y., but this time with Mets on one-year deal

ByJeff Passan ESPN logo
Friday, January 5, 2024

Center fielder Harrison Bader and the New York Mets agreed on a one-year, $10.5 million contract Thursday, sources told ESPN, the latest in a series of short-term pacts for the Mets as they approach 2024 as a transitional season.

The 29-year-old Bader is a gifted defensive outfielder, but an inconsistent bat and injury issues have hampered him. Under new president of baseball operations David Stearns, the Mets have added Bader and Tyrone Taylor, both of whom can play center, to complement incumbent center fielder Brandon Nimmo and right fielder Starling Marte.

Following a standout 2022 postseason in which he hit five home runs in nine games for the New York Yankees, Bader entered 2023 hopeful that a big season could lead to a free agent bounty. Oblique and hamstring injuries impeded that, and by the end of August, the Yankees had placed him on waivers, giving Bader up to the Cincinnati Reds for only salary relief.

Bader, who grew up just north of New York City, hit .232/.274/.348 with seven home runs and 20 stolen bases in 98 games last year. His career numbers are slightly better: .243/.310/.396 with 59 home runs and 217 RBIs in 635 games.

After spending a record $450 million-plus in 2023 only to finish below .500, the Mets approached 2024 with an eye as much on the future as this season. They lost out on the Shohei Ohtani and Yoshinobu Yamamoto sweepstakes and instead have valued the flexibility that one-year deals offer. Among those to sign one with the Mets: right-handed starter Luis Severino ($13 million), right-handed reliever Jorge Lopez and infielder Joey Wendle ($2 million), and right-handed reliever Michael Tonkin ($1 million). Bader's deal was first reported by SNY.

Bader, who made $5.2 million last season, was part of a glut of outfielder/designated hitter types who remain on the free agent market, including former All-Stars Teoscar Hernandez, J.D. Martinez, Joc Pederson, Jorge Soler and Justin Turner.