In 2018, Miguel Andujar was a strong rookie of the year candidate. He hit .297 with 27 homers and 92 RBI and 47 doubles. If it wasn’t for two-way sensation Shohei Ohtani, the award was probably his. Yankees fans were thrilled to have Andujar back for 2019 to help chase World Series title number 28. Unfortunately, it was as early as April 1 that injuries began to plague the third baseman’s 2019 season.
It began with a right shoulder strain on that sent Andujar to the 10-day IL for the first time this past season. On May 4, he was somewhat surprisingly activated off the IL, briefly dispelling fears that he was out for the season, but nine days later, Andujar found himself back on the injured list, this time with a right labrum tear. This tear would keep him out for the rest of the season.
2019 Statistics: 12 games, 49 plate appearances, .128/.143/.128, 0 home runs, 1 RBI, 1 run, 0 doubles, 0 extra-base hits, -1 WAR, -36 wRC+
2020 Contract Status: Pre-arbitration eligible
Andujar never looked right in the 12 games he played in this year, never looking like the natural hitter we all watched in 2018. Something was clearly bothering him the whole time as he went a cold 2-34 during nine games in May.
Andujar’s labrum tear would turn out to be only one injury of the several the Yankees’ roster endured in 2019. It was the year of the injury in New York, and Andujar may have gotten the worst of it. This was early bad news for Yankee fans, though the team of course managed just fine. The Yankees had a very deep roster in 2019, as proven by the several mid-season call-ups and signings that showed out like Mike Tauchman, Mike Ford, and Cameron Maybin.
However, it was a 2018 acquisition that may have been most effective in keeping Yankees’ fans hopes high. Gio Urshela, who turned out to be Andujar’s replacement at third base, tweaked his swing and became one of the team’s best hitters along while bringing a quality glove in the hot corner, something Andujar lacked. Come 2020, you’d have to expect a position battle for third base between the two unless either gets dealt before next season. Andujar’s bat was never a question, but now that the Yankees have seen the value in having a good defender at third base, will they settle for poor fielding at that position for a bat that wasn’t much better than Urshela’s in 2019? We’ll have to wait and find out.
Given that the Yankees have lots of room to improve their starting rotation, Andujar could be an interesting trade piece. Even after his season-ending injury, you could argue his value is still high given his youth. Teams and executives only have a strong rookie of the year candidacy to look at, and young bats that have a proven ability to hit could plausibly have other clubs salivating.