The Yankees didn’t reach their main goal of winning the World Series this season despite having a stacked roster yet again. However, there was one player who some might have forgotten about through all the October competition.
While the 2020 shortened season was a roller coaster for all players involved, Miguel Andujar experienced that even more than the rest of his teammates.
The 25-year-old played in just 21 of the Yankees’ 60 games this season, as he struggled mightily with the bat – as well as finding playing time – at the beginning of the year.
With a .115 average through August, the Yankees sent Andujar down to their Alternate Training Site on numerous occasions to figure out his swing. And by the time he felt comfortable with it again, he was the odd man out when injured players came off the IL.
So, after a season like this, is it time for GM Brian Cashman to finally trade away Andujar? It should be.
Cashman loves to hold on to assets he believes can have a real impact in the league, as any GM would. Andujar’s rookie season ended with him almost winning AL Rookie of the Year, with Shohei Ohtani taking that title in the end. It was supposed to be Gleyber Torres bringing in that trophy, but Andujar stood out with his unique helicopter swing that sprayed the ball all over the field.
But then he tore his labrum in his throwing shoulder in 2019, ending his season before it could take off. Andujar was already battling defensive issues at third base before that, too, so Cashman needed a replacement.
Enter Gio Urshela, who has been everything and ten times more than the Yankees expected at the hot corner. He figured out his own swing in Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and is now the Yankees’ incumbent at third base. There’s no taking him out of that spot, which was evident during spring training this year.
But remember, Andujar’s offensive skills were too good not to have in the lineup. So the Yankees told him to work on his outfield skills once he returned from rehab, and that’s what he did. The outfield depth, though, was evident in 2020 as well.
Clint Frazier had the breakout season that everyone envisioned for the former first-rounder, slashing .267/.394/.511 with eight homers and 26 RBI over 39 games. With players like Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge hurt, Frazier played the outfield corners and showed that he can produce on an everyday basis moving forward. He’s also just 25 years old and showed some major pop in his bat, something the Yankees couldn’t take out of the lineup even when everyone returned.
With Urshela holding duties at third and Frazier -- as well as Brett Gardner who could also return next season -- in the outfield, Andujar was on the taxi squad for the postseason instead of the main roster.
So where does that leave Andujar? Aaron Boone can’t create a spot for him anywhere in his lineup. Even Mike Tauchman is a better option in the outfield because of his sound defensive skills there. And at third base, Andujar has shown he’s too much of a liability to throw the ball across the diamond. Tyler Wade and Thairo Estrada have been the depth infielders for a reason.
Andujar’s agent has also gone public with his frustration for his client, who he said wasn’t getting a fair shot. He also believed the Yankees were manipulating Andujar’s service time by making him the first guy to be sent down each time a player returned from injury.
Now, Cashman has a young player with solid MLB experience and a good bat who doesn’t have a true home on his team. With the need for rotation help, now is the right time to make the calls to see what he might be able to acquire with Andujar as a trade chip.
It helps that Andujar hit .355/.394/.581 with a homer, triple, two doubles and five RBI in his September at-bats, so his trade value should still be relatively high. He also has three years of team control left, which is a main reason why Cashman has been so unwilling to trade him in the past.
Teams know that the Yankees don’t have a spot for him, though, so that may get tricky in terms of what New York can get in return.
Either way, Cashman knows his team needs to improve in multiple areas, and a trade of Andujar could bring back a solution to one of those needs. And it works out for both parties, with Andujar hopefully getting more steady playing time elsewhere.