If it seems like this subject has been discussed for months, well, it’s because that’s the case. But since we still don’t know what will happen, it’s fair to wonder: What will the New York Yankees do with Miguel Andújar?
To say that his trade value has plummeted would be an understatement. After finishing second in the 2018 American League Rookie of the Year voting with a .297/.328/.527 line as a 23-year-old, the sky was the limit for the talented hitter.
Yes, his defense was bad, but boy, he could rake. He hit an incredible 76 extra base hits that year, 27 of which left the yard. The Yankees were confident that, with a lot of work, he could improve in the hot corner.
The 2019 season arrived, and while he did work, the defensive improvements just didn’t materialize. To that point the Bombers had a young thumper with a suspect glove, but with youth on his side and multiple cheap years of service time, he was a valuable piece. Then he suffered a torn labrum and everything went south.
He missed most of the 2019 season, and while he played in 2020, the numbers weren’t there. It’s possible that the injury affected him one way or another, because his average exit velocity has plummeted from 89.2 miles per hour in 2018 (his last healthy season), to 83.6 in 2019 and 85.9 this year.
In 2020, the 25-year-old Andújar hit .242/.277/.355, with just one homer. He had a .270 wOBA (with a .268 xwOBA, so he didn’t get particularly unlucky) and a putrid 71 wRC+. Further complicating issues is the fact that there is no path for Andújar to find even semi-regular playing time.
As our own Joshua Diemert recently pointed out, there is just no evident place to put Andújar in the lineup. Gio Urshela and Clint Frazier are vastly superior defensively in the hot corner and the outfield, and the team is committed to Giancarlo Stanton as the regular designated hitter. So what happens now with Andújar?
Andújar seems to need regular playing time to get in a groove and finally leave his shoulder injury behind. But there is no obvious path to those at-bats with the Yankees. For New York, there appears to be three possible avenues to take:
- Trade him as soon as possible despite his all-time low value. At this point, they might as well flip him for a useful reliever if they can, or use him as a secondary piece to target someone via trade. While he offers absolutely no defensive value, he is still young and controllable. Some teams would value that, especially if the universal DH is approved in the next couple of years — that way, they could “hide” his obvious defensive shortcomings.
- Wait it out to see how he fares in the Dominican league, LIDOM, where he is playing with Toros del Este. If he lights the circuit on fire, he could gain some value and even re-enter the organization’s future plans.
- Keeping him around as valuable depth. After all, he showed too much offensive potential in 2018 to just gift him to another team, and maybe with a healthier shoulder and some live reps (he’s getting them in the Dominican Republic) he could become a utility for the corners.
Andújar will be just 26 in spring training. Any team needs depth: injuries could strike any time and the Yankees could be forced to use him at some point. However, he needs to show something, and for him, it all starts at Toros right now.
Andújar will surely be the subject of lots of trade rumors this offseason. Will the Yankees flip him or keep him around? What do you think they should do with him?