In their search to find a replacement at shortstop for Derek Jeter, the Yankees are unsurprisingly not restricting their scouting to the free agent market. According to a report from Joel Sherman, the Yankees are "intrigued" by the idea of trading for Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus.
With few legitimate shortstop prospects in their system and none who will make an impact anytime soon since they spent 2014 at Low-A or below, it makes sense that the Yankees would be curious about bringing the 26-year-old Andrus into the organization. In April 2013, the Rangers signed Andrus to an eight-year, $120 million extension that kicks in starting with the 2015 season, running through 2022 with an option for 2023. He has possible opt-outs in his deal for after the 2018 and 2019 seasons, but of course if he actually uses one, then that would mean he's doing well.
Since Andrus was called up at such a young age, he would only be 33 in 2022, so as the SBN Rangers blog Lone Star Ball noted, it made some sense to lock him up. At the time, Andrus was also coming off his second straight four-win season due to a combination of his defensive excellence and his developing bat. Since finishing runner-up for the 2009 AL Rookie of the Year award, Andrus has been a two-time AL All-Star and 17.6 WAR player in six seasons, and he was of course the shortstop for the most successful period in franchise history for the Rangers, when they made the playoffs three years in a row from 2010-12 and won back-to-back AL pennants in 2010 and 2011. Long considering a superb shortstop, Andrus's bat appeared to be finally breaking out in the 2011 and 2012 seasons, when he combined to hit .283/.348/.370 with 58 doubles, 12 triples, 58 steals, and a 95 wRC+. That's fine for a shortstop ,particularly one with his defense:
Unfortunately for the Rangers, Andrus has taken a step back over the past two seasons, not unlike the Rangers organization itself. He's remained one of the few constants, as he's averaged a remarkable 152 games per season since being called up, and indeed, he's missed just 15 games over the past three years. His defense stayed fine, but his bat slumped to a .267/.321/.332 triple slash since the start of 2013, a 79 wRC+. Sherman also noted that he came into camp out of shape this year, which is just never a good sign. Perhaps most concerning is his decline in plate discipline; after walking in 8.2% of his plate appearances from 2011-12, Andrus has walked in just 7.1% of total PA since 2013 (6.7% in 2014 alone). That will cause a dip in production for any player, and it's particularly noticeable for a shortstop who doesn't hit for much power. Additionally, even though he hit a career-high 35 doubles in 2014, slight dips in singles, triples, and homers meant that his .333 slugging percentage was below his career average of .345.
Despite the two-year slump, it's not hard to see why the Yankees would still retain some interest in Andrus. He only turned 26 last August; he's still quite young with his prime potentially ahead of him. Furthermore, while he is quite unlikely to hit anywhere near the levels previously achieved by Derek Jeter, the Captain's defense never really approached Andrus's level, either. So Andrus brings a fair amount to the table from a defensive side that hasn't been seen from a regular shortstop in the Bronx in years.
The possibility for a rebound with the bat makes him more enticing, and as Sherman stated, the Rangers might also be more inclined to trade him given his contract and the possibility of a quick replacement at shortstop with the cheaper young players Jurickson Profar, Rougned Odor, or Luis Sardinas. I would definitely have to think seriously about what the Rangers would want in return (Sherman suggests pitching, so that means Luis Severino and/or Ian Clarkin would almost certainly have to be on the table), but I see no reason to be upset that the Yankees are at least exploring the idea. (He'd almost certainly be cheaper than Troy Tulowitzski and not be nearly the injury risk.) They need to figure out some solution at shortstop for the immediate future with no prospects arriving anytime soon, and Andrus is already an accomplished player who isn't even close to 30 yet.
So what do you think? Should the Yankees try to acquire Elvis Andrus? I know at least one person who thinks so, but what about everyone else?