Yankees outfielder Harrison Bader claimed off waivers by Cincinnati Reds

Harrison Bader is headed to Cincinnati, the Yankees announced Thursday.

The Reds claimed the speedy center fielder off waivers, ending the New York native’s tenure with the Yankees after only 98 regular season games.

Bader, 29, batted .237 with seven home runs, 46 RBI and 19 stolen bases over the past two seasons with the Yankees, who had acquired the 2021 Gold Glove Award winner ahead of last year’s trade deadline.

“It just means so much to me to be a New York City kid playing in the Bronx for the Yankees,” an emotional Bader, who is from Bronxville, said Thursday. “It’s just really special for a lot of reasons. There’s a lot of good moments. ... Regardless of the situation, no one can ever take the fact that I put that uniform on.”

Bader provides a boost to a Cincinnati team that entered Thursday at 69-66, six games out of the National League Central and a game out of the third and final NL Wild Card spot. The Reds will pay Bader less than $1 million for the remainder of the season.

Any team that claimed Bader needed to add him to its roster before 11:59 p.m. EDT Thursday for him to be eligible for the postseason.

The Yankees traded starting pitcher Jordan Montgomery to the St. Louis Cardinals in August 2022 to acquire Bader. Plantar fasciitis delayed his Yankees debut by more than a month, but he quickly ingratiated himself to the team during a torrid 2022 postseason in which he hit five home runs in nine games.

Bader is batting .240 this season, during which he missed games with oblique and hamstring injuries.

“He plays hard every day,” Yankees ace Gerrit Cole said Wednesday night.

“One of the best center fielders, if not the best defensive center fielder, I’ve ever played with,” Cole added, listing Aaron Judge, George Springer and Andrew McCutchen among the others.

Bader was rumored as a candidate to be moved before the 2023 trade deadline, but the Yankees opted to largely stand pat rather than buy or sell. A miserable August that included a nine-game losing streak forced the Yankees to look toward the future.

The Yankees, who are in last place in the AL East, have been clearing spots on their active and 40-man rosters to facilitate the call-ups of young players. This week, they released third baseman Josh Donaldson, whom they had placed on the 60-day injured list after a July calf strain, and minor-league pitcher Spencer Howard, whom they acquired from the Rangers before the Aug. 1 trade deadline.

The team recently brought up 22-year-old Everson Pereira and 23-year-old Oswald Peraza and is expected to add top prospects Jasson Dominguez, 20, and Austin Wells, 24, to the big-league club Friday. Dominguez and Wells’ promotions from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre are set to coincide with MLB rosters expanding from 26 to 28 players.

Bader said he found out Tuesday he was placed on waivers after seeing a headline on ESPN. His final game with the Yankees took place Wednesday night in Detroit.

“I never, in a million years, thought I’d play in the big leagues, let alone for the New York Yankees,” Bader said Tuesday after learning he was placed on waivers. “Just the opportunity has been incredible and I’ve loved every second of it. Whatever happens, happens. I understand it’s a business.”