In the summer of 2018, the Yankees had two constants on offense: Giancarlo Stanton and Miguel Andújar. While everyone else either got hurt, scuffled or some combination of those two, Stanton and Andújar remained solid, giving the Yankees an offensive base to carry them towards the postseason.
A year later, after coming into 2019 with his bat ostensibly cemented in the Yankees lineup, Andújar now appears to be a man without a position or perhaps even a job in the Bronx.
Yet this all begs the question: Should the Yankees even trade Andújar? Even with Gio Urshela usurping him at third base and Stanton presumably in line for some DH at-bats, Andújar remains an All-Star caliber bat regardless of his other demonstrable flaws.
Here are some pros and cons to keeping the 24-year-old batsman:
Pros: Andújar freaking rakes
Since it’s been more than six months since we’ve seen Andújar on the field, I think it’s worth taking a second to remember just how good he was at age-23 in 2018.
For the season, he hit .297/.328/.527 (130 wRC+) and hit 27 home runs and a Yankees rookie-record 47 doubles, all while striking out just 16 percent of the time. DRC had him at just 20 percent above league average, but that’s still well above the mean for 149 games as a rookie. This also was a slightly tamer offensive environment than the wild west of 2019.
Sometimes, you’ll see a player hit 27 home runs and many fewer doubles, indicating that the player’s power output is less than it appears. Andújar puts that concern to rest as a doubles machine. He serves the ball all over the field and is the type of hitter than can thrive when the baseball has less bounce to it.
It’s no secret that the Yankees have shielded his glove from too much sunshine. That’s part of why he didn’t get an extended run in 2017 and why Adeiny Hechavarria became a needed caddy for the postseason a year later. Regardless, Andújar put up 2.8 fWAR (2.0 WARP) in his rookie season, with even more value than that from his bat. Even without a position, his bat plays.
Cons: Urshela and Stanton make him expendable
When you look at the Yankees’ offensive setup for 2020, it’s hard to see where Andújar fits at first. Urshela is clearly a better fielder than Andújar is and likely ever will be. That was Urshela’s calling card to make the Majors; Now his bat has followed.
Furthermore, Urshela’s 2019 season was as good at the plate as Andújar’s 2018, with his wRC+ and DRC+ a few ticks higher. Urshela has less power and doesn’t have the same Minor League track record of hitting, but those aren’t prerequisites as they once were with players making dramatic swing changes.
If Urshela is planted at third, that mostly leaves designated hitter for Andújar, even if Didi Gregorius signs elsewhere with Gleyber Torres, DJ LeMahieu and Luke Voit manning the infield. Brian Cashman spoke about moving Andújar around, which could mean first base or left field, but he also needs to fully recover from his shoulder injury before a positional adjustment can take hold.
Left field, for now, is Stanton’s job, though an injury-troubled 2019 of his own portends more DH days in his future. The Yankees did well spreading the DH days around last season when Stanton and Edwin Encarnacion were out, and that might be the better usage of the spot.
Pros: Depth, depth, depth
Did we learn nothing from 2019? Andújar’s injury could have been a death knell or at least a crisis for the Yankees if Urshela didn’t step up. LeMahieu’s value at first and second base makes the need for another infielder important, particularly one who can handle third.
And what if Urshela isn’t for real? What if he, or Voit, or Stanton, or just about anyone gets hurt? These are less a series of hypotheticals and more the cold realities of baseball. You’re going to have guys go down and miss extended periods, so all the better to have an All-Star backing them up while soaking up DH at-bats.
The Yankees pride themselves on their depth. Quality depth can be the difference between hosting the Twins in ALDS and having to play the Wild Card Game just to make it to Houston. Andújar isn’t ordinary depth and putting that bat as your backup plan is beautiful.
Cons: Top trade piece
Even with all his flaws as a glovesman, Andújar still has significant value. More value for an American League team with the DH available, but, as stated above, his bat plays anywhere. With defensive shifting and the proper infield around him, teams (or the Yankees if he stays) can minimize the damage he does with the glove and maximizes his potential at the plate.
With his bat as a trade chip, the Yankees can get something real in return straight-up or as part of a package.. A veteran pitcher for a team in win-now mode. A young starter with potential. Maybe a hitter who better fits the roster.
Andújar isn’t even arbitration-eligible yet and has four years of team control. Even with the shoulder injury, a significant concern, and his glove, there would be plenty of suitors for the third baseman.
I went into this thinking about Andújar as someone to trade, a chip more valuable cashed in than kept. The more I wrote and the more I looked at his bat, the more I feel he gives the Yankees next season and beyond. If they trade him and can get a significant piece in return, so be it. But at third base, or corner outfield, or wherever he ends up, Andújar looks better in pinstripes than any other uniform.