The Yankees announced several roster moves today as rosters contract from 30 men to 28. The team sent Miguel Andújar, Thairo Estrada, and Nick Nelson to the Alternative Site in Pennsylvania. I took a look at the roster crunch on Monday and predicted that Brooks Kriske and Thairo Estrada would be first to go. Kriske was already sent down for Luis Cessa yesterday, so he wasn’t an option here. Thairo doesn’t play at all, so his demotion was predictable. Nelson had a rough outing yesterday and has 3 options, so he makes sense, too. (The Yanks will probably recall Ben Heller or another depth arm to fill the extra spot on the roster.) The big news here, of course, is Miguel Andújar.
There is logic to this from a straight baseball point-of-view. Miggy is recovering from major injuries and will need regular playing time to get back up to speed. Those at-bats are likely not there with the Yankees, but they are there in Pennsylvania. And it’s not like he’s setting the world on fire: he is hitting just .071/.071/.071 in 14 plate appearances. The Yanks clearly tried to get him regular time. It probably just wasn’t enough. He’s the victim of a very deep and talented roster, like so many other big league quality players in the Yanks organization. A less talented team probably has space for Andújar. Right now, the Yankees do not.
But there is also another benefit for the Yankees: by sending him down now, they’ll likely gain another year of control over Andújar. MLB and MLBPA agreed to pro-rate service time in 2020, so the normal 172 days on an active roster needed for a full year of service time is now 61 days. This helps us understand Andújar’s situation. He came into 2020 with 2 years and 20 days of service time. Using the new formula, Andújar needs 54 days on the Yankees’ active roster to clear 3.0 years of service time and hit free agency a year sooner.
In other words, sending Andújar down now all but guarantees the Yankees another year of control. If he spends 13 days in Pennsylvania – and he can’t come up for at least 10 days anyway – then that’ll be that. It’s unfortunate for Andújar. No doubt about it. On the bright side, at least he’ll be a Super 2 and be arbitration-eligible before reaching 3 years of time. It’s also important to remember that this isn’t necessarily straight service time manipulation. The extra at-bats will likely be helpful to Andújar and help him return to form more quickly than he would otherwise. That’s a win-win for everyone.