It feels like it’s been ages since Miguel Andújar’s breakout season in 2018, when he finished second in Rookie of the Year voting, posting an .855 OPS. Since the beginning of the 2019 season, Andújar’s appeared in just 33 games, requiring season-ending surgery after 12 games in 2019 to repair a torn labrum, and struggling to find his footing at any point in 2020.
By season’s end, Andújar’s defensive struggles had proven too significant to overcome with even above average offense, as the club left him off the playoff roster entirely. With his stock at an all-time low, he’ll need to prove his worth in the early part of 2021 if the Yankees are to find any time for him on the field, or any willing trade suitors.
2020 Statistics: 21 games, 65 plate appearances, one home run, .242/.277/.355, 74 OPS+, .270 wOBA
2021 Contract Status: Pre-arbitration eligible
He’s not a lost cause, but at this point, the Yankees have little use for him. His run as a corner-outfielder through 41 innings of the early season was a short-lived disaster, as he recorded an error in just five chances. After that failure, he returned to third, displaying no improvements upon the brick hands and wild arm he’d displayed in the past. In only 13 attempts at third base, Andújar recorded three errors, leading to three outs below average. Over a full season on defense, Miggy’s ineptitude at third would scale up to an impossibly bad -81 OAA. Though the small sample size more than likely belies some semblance of competence, Andújar was an unplayable -11 OAA in 2018, his only full season.
At the plate, his season’s tallies were that of a contact hitter with little power and no ability to draw walks—in a word, useless. However, his pre-September stats anchored his overall numbers, despite a moderate breakout before the season’s end. In the season’s final month and change, during which Andújar received as many at-bats as he had in the previous two (during which he recorded four total bases on four singles), he posted an OPS of .975 along with 18 total bases, proving he’s still capable of getting just as hot as he was during the bulk of his rookie season.
Despite his elite bat-to-ball skills, unlocked when in rhythm, like this September, his offensive output is ultimately hard-capped by his flawed swing mechanics. He commits to a dead pull swing early, keeping his strikeouts down, but also depressing his walks and limiting his potential power output. He’s only able to drive pitches that he can pull, which causes him to struggle to hit pitches that break away from his swing path (righty sliders, lefty changeups).
With the heaviest of feet and the hardest of hands, it seems as though Andújar’s chance of becoming a passable defender has come and gone. Offensively, he’s at least an average major league hitter in the right circumstances, maybe even a pretty good one, but he’ll never be one of the game’s very best with his inability to command the zone with a dynamic swing and poor on-base tool. Without a defensive position and with Giancarlo Stanton hogging the designated hitter slot for the foreseeable future, Andújar has no clear role on the 2021 Yankees, barring catastrophic injuries. As he’s already entering his prime, with 2021 marking his age-26 season, the Yankees must be ready to deal him this offseason. The universal DH likely opens some doors to that possibility, but the team is unlikely to get a haul for an inconsistent batter with limited major league experience who can’t play defense.