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The Yankees need pitching, but Miguel Andujar is a keeper

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After being mentioned as a potential trade target for much of the past two offseasons, Andujar looks like he’s safe to stay so far.

Toronto Blue Jays v New York Yankees Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

A lot has gone right for the 2018 Yankees, even going back to the offseason. They had the reigning National League MVP fall into their laps, acquired solid depth while shedding the right pieces, and elected not to compromise the future by holding on to their major prospects.

That last bit was the most divisive bit of the offseason, but it’s paid dividends for the Yankees thus far. While yes, the Yankees could surely use a starting pitcher these days (who couldn’t), the Yankees would likely have had to give up one or both of Clint Frazier or Miguel Andujar. While Frazier has spent much of this season hurt or in the minors, Andujar has been a major contributor for the Yankees this season, and has graduated from trade bait to a piece worth keeping around.

Believe it or not, Andujar has the fifth-most at-bats of any player on the Yankees’ roster. For a player who didn’t even start the season with the big club, he sure has made an impression on manager Aaron Boone, who has put him in the lineup time and time again. And Andujar has certainly warranted the playing time.

The 23-year-old third baseman is second on the club in hits and leads the team in doubles. On a team with hitters like Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Gary Sanchez and Didi Gregorius, that Andujar is producing at their level before even playing 50 MLB games is beyond impressive. Andujar also has plus contact skills – he doesn’t strike out nearly as often as a rookie with his power usually does – and there is reason to believe that his batter’s eye will only continue to improve, as we examined earlier this week.

But Andujar’s bat has never been in question. He has always been a bat-first prospect, even dating back to his earliest scouting reports. It’s his defense that made the Yankees worry, which is why they went out and acquired Brandon Drury. Though he hasn’t been perfect out there, he has proven to be a pleasant surprise at the hot corner. Andujar has even stayed with the Yankees while Drury and Ronald Torreyes have been demoted, signifying that the Yankees are pleased with Andujar’s growth.

Andujar’s strong arm is easy to see, but he has also shown the ability to field at the hot corner; he has made just two errors in 40 games. This is a major improvement from his last four minor league seasons, where he made at least 17 errors a year for a total of 91 E5s. There have been no rookie jitters for Andujar in the box or in the field this year though, which has been his greatest attribute so far this season.

When the Yankees pushed hard to acquire starting pitching this offseason, most notably Gerrit Cole, they were forced to put Andujar on the table. The Yankees needed a starting pitcher, and Cole had top-of-the-rotation potential. In the end, no deal could be agreed to, but it all seems to have worked out for the better. While the Yankees still need starting pitching, at least they have third base locked down.

As was the case in January, if this team is to acquire an arm at the deadline, it will not come at the expense of Miguel Andujar. The rookie has more than proved his worth for the Yankees, and General Manager Brian Cashman looks wise for hanging on to Andujar. Starting pitchers come and go, but prospects with Andujar’s bat speed don’t come around often.

Whoever ends up filling the void in the Yankees’ rotation will have the luxury of being teammates with Miguel Andujar, not being traded for him.