The Pros and Cons of keeping Miguel Andújar

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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.

It’s en vogue to come up with Andújar trade ideas. Deal him for Mookie Betts, Jo Adell, Kyle Schwarber. You name a player on the market or otherwise, and they’ve been traded for Miggy at some point.

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.

Parting Thoughts

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.

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3 Comments

  1. RetroRob

    I’m not sold on Gio. His breakout was too huge, and it’s not as if this was a case of a young player who raked in the minors but had troubles initially in the majors before finally finding his footing. Urshela was never considered to have a significant bat. Over 11 seasons in the minors, in nearly 900 games and 3600+ PAs, he was a .270/.306/.399 hitter. Not patient, no power. He was regarded as a glove who you hoped would hit enough so you could use his glove. Likely at best he was a platoon/bench piece. I get that he made some changes to his approach, but I also get that MLB used a super ball last year, and reading between the lines it appears MLB will try and reverse that. If so, Gio’s bat may coming crashing back to earth.

    Andujar’s bat is real based on what we saw and the scouting reports. He was the opposit of Gio. Bat first prospect. He produced in 2018, and frankly who knows what he would have done against the 2019 ball. His glove is a concern, but if Gio’s bat goes south, fans are going to be begging for Andujar to take over at 3B again, with Gio sticking around for late-inning defense. The 26th man will allow that.

    Right now, I don’t think the Yankees could get more than 50 cents on the dollar for Andujar. That’s more than last April when he underwent surgery and they likely wouldn’t get pennies on the dollar, but he still has yet to play in games post surgery and he’s yet to show there’s no loss in skills. If he shows that, his trade value will increase. Let him play, let’s see if Gio if for real, and then we can discuss maybe cashing Andujar in. Right now it makes no sense.

  2. Another for the Pro pile: We have no idea if Gio is a one season wonder.

  3. DJ Lemeddardhieu

    There are no cons to keeping him, Steven. It’s like saying there are cons to keeping Gleyber Torres. Miggy hits for contact and power, unlike half the lineup. He can slot in nicely to DH and backup 3B. And Stanton doesn’t make anyone expendable. If anything, he makes everyone else vital because you know he’s going to get a scratch and be out for 3 months. And I would have Miggy work in LF with Reggie this offseason down in Tampa for that very reason. With his arm he can be a serviceable outfielder. I wouldn’t trade him. If they didn’t trade him last offseason when his value is high I can’t see them doing it this year. If they want to make a big trade for an ace put Gary and Clint in the deal or just sign Cole and keep everybody.

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