Claimed by Cincinnati Reds, New York native Harrison Bader hopes for future return to Yankees

CINCINNATI (AP) — Claimed off waivers by the Cincinnati Reds, Harrison Bader thought about one day returning to the New York Yankees.

“I never thought I'd ever play in the big leagues, let alone in the Yankees uniform,” the native New Yorker said Thursday. “I have no idea what's to come for the future. I certainly hope it's in a Yankees uniform again if that's an option.”

Outfielder Hunter Renfroe also was claimed by the Reds, off waivers from the Los Angeles Angels, in an effort by the team to boost its playoff push. Both are eligible for free agency following the World Series.

Bader was acquired by the Yankees from St. Louis on Aug. 2 last year for left-hander Jordan Montgomery and hit five homers in nine postseason games for the Yankees.

“It just means so much to me to be a New York City kid playing in the Bronx for the Yankees,” Bader said in Detroit. “Just a lot of good moments. And I'm just really excited because regardless of the situation, no one can ever take the fact that I put that uniform on.”

His departure clears the way for 20-year-old prospect Jasson Domínguez to be promoted to the Yankees and play center field.

A Gold Glove winner with St. Louis in 2021, Bader hit .240 with seven homers, 37 RBIs and 17 stolen bases in 18 attempts over 84 games with New York this year. Bader strained his left oblique in spring training and didn’t make his season debut until May 2. He was sidelined between May 29 and June 20 with a strained right hamstring.

“He did some special things, especially during the postseason, as a kid who grew up here,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said of Bader. “You never close the book on someone like that.”

Bader thought back to his first Yankees game last Sept. 20.

“Everything from this exact moment on is just the cherry on top,” he remembered thinking.

Cincinnati began Thursday night one game behind San Francisco for the NL’s last wild card, a half-game behind Arizona.

“I’m very excited to be joining a club that’s in their position,” Bader said. “I have a lot of familiarity with not only the Reds but their division, as well, and a lot of the opponents they have. I’ve already checked the schedule. I’m just excited to go out there and play meaningful baseball down the stretch.”

The 31-year-old Renfroe hit .242 with 19 homers and 56 RBIs in his first season with the Angels, who acquired him from Milwaukee last November for three young pitchers: right-handers Janson Junk and Elvis Peguero, and minor league lefty Adam Seminaris. Renfroe has 176 homers in eight major league seasons, hitting .240 with 450 RBIs.

Cincinnati added $2,058,333 in payroll with the two moves. Renfroe is owed $1,275,000 of his $7.65 million salary and Bader $783,333 of his $4.7 million salary.

Infielder-outfielder Alejo López and outfielder Michael Siani were designated for assignment.

Cincinnati hosts the Chicago Cubs in a doubleheader Friday.

“I wouldn't want it any other way,” Bader said.