It took awhile for the Yankees offseason to “start.” They were able to retain DJ LeMahieu, and even reel in Corey Kluber to bolster the starting rotation. The Bombers don’t seem to have a lot of money left to spend before the season begins, or at least that’s what it sounds like. With that said, the way we see the roster now is how it will likely be come Opening Day, which means no more enforcements are on the way.
The Yankees will need the current talent on their roster to help them win games this upcoming season. But, for a select few players such as Miguel Andújar, Tyler Wade, and Mike Ford, their success will not only help the Yankees put tallies in the win column, but could also keep the pinstripes on their backs.
It’s no secret that those three players aren’t key pieces to a Yankees championship, but they’re most definitely contributors. If one or more of these players sees their role on the team diminish, it could be the writing on the wall for them. Here’s how each of those players can prevent that from happening.
Andújar was the runner-up American League Rookie of the Year in 2018 and had the fanbase excited that he could be the team’s third baseman of the future. However, a torn labrum unfortunately ended his 2019 season and even prompted a trade for Gio Urshela. Once Urshela took the league by storm, Andújar’s spot at the hot corner no longer belonged to him. It’s evident that his defense is a downside to his play, so the Yanks have since tried him in the outfield, but with very little success in limited appearances.
So where does Andújar fit on this team? I’m not totally sure, and I’m not sure the Yankees know either. He showed what he can do at the plate in 2018, but that was three years ago and he hasn’t shown that he can get back to the Miguel Andújar we all saw he was in his rookie season. We know Andújar won’t get too many reps at third, forcing a natural infielder to potentially play in left field, which we saw didn’t work last year.
The DH spot will most likely be occupied by Giancarlo Stanton and Gary Sánchez, and any shot of Miggy playing first would be slim as well, as they have Luke Voit, with Mike Ford and DJ LeMahieu backing up. The way Andújar makes his mark on this team and remains a Yankee in the future will have to be through his offense. If he can’t hit enough, he won’t be in pinstripes for much longer.
The utility infielder has seen playing time mainly to fill-in for injured players. Unfortunately for the Yankees, injuries have happened often, which has provided Wade with many opportunities to play and attempt to prove he can be an everyday player at the major league level. However, he has not been able to establish himself as that player and the clock could be ticking for him if he doesn’t show strides of improvement this season.
Wade is a pretty decent infielder defensively, but it’s his bat that drastically drags him down. In 52 games last year, he hit below the Mendoza line at .170, paired with a 69 wRC+ and .595 OPS. Those are all very below average numbers and it could spell trouble for Wade if he can’t boost his offensive production. With a bad bat and guys in front of him on the depth chart like DJ LeMahieu, Gleyber Torres and Gio Urshela, Wade needs to figure himself out before it’s too late and the Yankees find a different utility infielder to fill the void.
When Luke Voit hit the injured list in 2019, Ford was the one who took over at first base and made a huge impact for the team. He was getting on base, hitting the ball hard, and even blasted a walk-off home run. He finished the year with a 134 wRC+ and 12 homers over 50 games. Not too shabby for the rookie. But when 2020 came around, Ford did not find the same success. He only registered 84 plate appearances, hitting .135 and struck out 19% of the time.
Ford wasn’t putting the ball in play as often, and when he was, he didn’t nearly find the holes in the defense that he was the year prior. Going from a 134 wRC+ to a 36 wRC+ is a significant drop-off in his offense — not to mention that his glove doesn’t hold much value, either. With LeMahieu as a backup first baseman and Voit coming off a season in which he led the league in home runs, Ford will need to replicate his 2019 season by relocating that lefty power swing and that 91+ mph exit velocity.