Yankees: Miguel Andujar to see specialist after reporting wrist and hand soreness

New York Yankees, Miguel Andujar

Everything has been going on a downward spiral for Miguel Andujar since he injured his shoulder in 2019. That torn labrum took away most of the 2019 campaign and could have sapped some of his power last year, too. It has been quite the fall from the former New York Yankees’ top prospect that finished as the runner-up in the 2018 AL Rookie of the Year voting behind Shohei Ohtani, with a .297/.328/.527 line, 27 homers, and 92 RBI.

Already on the roster bubble because, in great part, of his defensive limitations and the fact that he hasn’t been able to show the same offensive talent the whole league saw three years ago, his chances of making the Yankees got even slimmer on Sunday morning.

Andujar has been dealing with wrist and hand soreness for a while, and will be seeing a hand specialist on Monday, according to Yankees manager Aaron Boone.

Andujar is on the Yankees’ roster bubble, and this doesn’t help

To be more specific, Boone said that Andujar felt the soreness back when he was playing with Toros del Este in the Dominican winter league, but didn’t think it was serious until he felt more soreness recently.

Regardless of what the hand specialist thinks about Andujar’s injury, the Yankees don’t have a clear spot for Andujar to play regularly and one could even argue that they don’t have space for him in the roster given the incredible depth they boast and the emergence of spring training standouts like pitcher Lucas Luetge, infielder Andrew Velazquez, outfielder Jay Bruce, and others.

Last season, the New York Yankees prepared Miguel Andujar to be super utility type for the corners (first base, third base, left and right field) but he ended up playing in just 21 games and spent the majority of the season at the Yankees’ alternate training site.

MLB: Will the New York Yankees or other MLB teams be active in this trade season?

New York Yankees, Miguel Andujar

The answer for the most part is no.  The New York Yankees have a powerful lineup and at the moment sufficient pitching to get to the postseason.  There are several reasons we won’t see much action in the next two weeks in MLB and here are a few:

  1. 16 teams able to reach the postseason, will make them less likely to move talented players.

  2. In this short season devoid of revenues, teams will not want to spend large amounts of money to acquire players.

  3. The opt-out situation.  With only 27 days left of the season at the deadline, would a team want to trade for someone that might opt out of the remainder of the season?

  4. The coronavirus factor: A team lets a talented prospect go for a seasoned veteran that reports the next day, but tests positive for the virus. A trade lost.

  5. Teams will be less knowledgeable as to who they might want to trade for.  In a normal year, scouts criss-cross the country looking at players they might want.  Not the case this short season.

  6. Even teams at the bottom of the rankings, like the Boston Red Sox or the Pittsburgh Pirates, are still only two or three wins from being in postseason contention.  If they have any players that are attractive, they may not want to go without them.

To get an idea where teams might be in their trade thoughts, let’s take a look at the New York Yankees.  Yes, the Yankees are near the top of baseball but they still have some inadequacies.  Gleyber Torres has not batted in any meaningful way, and of late is building up errors at shortstop. J.A. Happ doesn’t seem to be able to pitch this year.

With all the talent on the bench and really good pitchers coming along, would New York General Manager Brian Cashman want to deal any of the team’s brightest talents?  It’s doubtful. There is Miguel Andujar, who isn’t doing much this year, and really has no permanent place to play.  But even with Miguel, who surely has a bright future in baseball, would it be worth trading him away due to an offseason.  Probably not.

Even with stars Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge presently injured (although Judge may be back tonight), the Yankees have proved they have plenty of talent in the wings, like Mike Tauchman, Mike Ford, and Clint Frazier.

If the New York Yankees are going to do something, it will probably be to acquire a pitcher, caused by the poor pitching of J.A. Happ. But then again, there are still two weeks to see if the likes of Jonathan Loasigia, Micheal King, or Clarke Schmidt can fill that spot. My guess is that with spending big for Gerrit Cole and the lack of revenue this season, that the Yankees will not be active by the August 31 deadline, unless it’s a blockbuster move.

If a team is active, it will likely be everyone’s favorite sign-stealing team, the Houston Astros, that are really in bad shape this year, going into this weekend’s games.  The big blow to the team was the loss of ace Gerrit Cole during the offseason to the New York Yankees. They have also lost co-ace, Justin Verlander, to injury along with several of the bullpen being on the IL.  Although they still have a powerful lineup, have been ravaged by the absence of designated hitter Yordan Alvarez.  For this team headed up by Dusty Baker, not to make the postseason, in a season that it should be so easy too, would be a great embarrassment to a team that is already an embarrassment to baseball, it would be devastating.

New York Yankees’ manager Aaron Boone is ready to try Andujar in the outfield

New York Yankees, Miguel Andujar

Back in spring training, the New York Yankees were seriously considering the idea of Miguel Andujar, the 2018 runner-up for the Rookie of the Year award, playing some games in the outfield. After all, he didn’t show he was a good fielder at third base, his natural position, at any point in his major league tenure, and that spot is now occupied by Gio Urshela.

However, the Yankees want to keep Andujar’s potent bat in the lineup at least a couple of times per week, potentially more depending on the injury outlook. That’s why manager Aaron Boone and the team as a whole decided to try Andujar at new positions, such as first base and the outfield.

It appears that the New York Yankees are comfortable with the plan, and want Andujar to earn playing time while playing the outfield, Boone confirmed in a conference call with reporters on Wednesday.

Another option for the Yankees’ crowded OF

Playing the outfield, therefore, is “something he (Andujar) could absolutely do.” The New York Yankees have a logjam in the position, with Aaron Judge, Aaron Hicks and Brett Gardner the likely starters and Giancarlo Stanton as the main DH, but potentially seeing some starts in left field as well. The club also has Mike Tauchman and Clint Frazier ready to roll if needed. However, Boone thinks Andujar, who missed most of last season with a labrum injury, could handle a corner position in the outfield if needed.

“Early signs show me that he’ll be able to handle that versatility,” Boone added. That way, Andujar could play the outfield corners, some third and DH, opening up some at-bats for his talented bat, one who hit 27 home runs with a .297 average in 2018.

During his pro career, Andujar, forever an exciting Yankees prospect, has never played other position than third base. However, the team brass liked what they saw from him in the outfield in spring training and appear ready to move forward with the experiment.

Are The New York Yankees Making a Mistake at Shortstop?

New York Yankees, Gleyber Torres

The New York Yankees made their play early into the 2019 offseason who their future at shortstop was. And they were tipping their hand during the 2019 regular season when rumors over their parting of ways with Didi Gregorius started coming out. It’s been clear for a while they intended to move Gleyber back to shortstop.

But is his Spring Training starting to show how much of a mistake that was?

I’ve Said it Before, I’ll Say it Again, He’s a Better Second Baseman

As George King and Ken Davidoff point we in the New York Post, Gleyber committed most of his errors last season at shortstop. And he played most of his games in the field at short. Out of the 20 errors he made last season combined, 11 were at short. He’s also committed 5 errors in 10 games in Spring Training.

I’ve argued before that “You can’t use a poor Spring Training performance as insight for the season to come”. But I’ve also pointed out the troubles defensively Gleyber has had defensively at short in the big leagues. This should be concerning for the Yankees, as it’s clear they want DJ to be their starting second baseman.

When Do You Consider the Move a Failure?

Sanchez had 2018 to forget, both offensively and defensively. With Judge being consistently hurt, Torres is becoming a lynchpin in that batting order. If his defensive woes at short continue, and he can’t figure it out, does that impact his offense the same way Sanchez’s defensive woes in 2018 effected him? Chuck Knoblauch saw his offense nose dive in the ’90s after his defensive instability became more obvious. And we’re talking about a former Gold Glove-winning second baseman.

This should concern the Yankees.

What This Could Mean for 2020 and 2021

If the New York Yankees have to move Gleyber back to second, you have to decide who you’re going to keep. If you want to keep DJ and want him to play, his second position on the field is third base. That’s the position currently occupied by Gio Urshela. Urshela is several years younger than DJ, and the analytics are going to show (and the Yankees are all in on analytics right now), that would mean they go with Urshela.

But what if Urshela regresses to what he was pre-2019 offensively? What if Urshela’s defensive liabilities (according to FanGraphs, he was the second worse defensive third baseman in baseball last season, showing a natural progression for Andujar if he was healthy), do you move Torres back to second, DJ to third, and have Wade as your shortstop, to then trade for a shortstop at the deadline?

The fact that the Yankees couldn’t find the same stats I found on Torre’s Defense is alarming. And the fact that his defensive liabilities at short are becoming more obvious makes you question why they didn’t just resign Didi in the first place.

Early Take Aways From Yankees Spring Training

New York Yankees, Gary Sanchez, Gerrit Cole, Aaron Boone

The Yankees are currently 0-2, but it’s still Spring Training. The record won’t count against the Yanks come to Opening Day, so no one needs to panic… yet. While we’re still young in the Spring Training schedule, here are some early storylines to watch as scrimmage play continues.

Andujar Off to Hot Start He Needs

As I repeatedly stressed, the battle for third base is far from decided. What Urshela and Andujar do this spring will determine who our opening day third baseman is. Urshela is currently hitless. Andujar has only one hit, but it’s a home run. I’ve continually stressed that Urshela needs to show last year wasn’t a fluke offensively if he wants playing time. And if Andujar can show even a 20% improvement defensively from 2018, while outhitting Urshela, it’ll be a tough call to justify keeping Urshela as the opening day starter at third.

Happ Looks Good

The Yankees will need to get creative to fill the void between now and June when we’ll get German and Paxton back. While I still believe it was a mistake hanging on to JA Happ, his 2 scoreless innings with 3 K’s is helping to feed some optimism.

Cessa and Loaisiga Make Strong Cases for Starter Spot

I don’t want to think about another season without Luis Severino, but it seems likely to happen. So, with both Cessa and Loaisiga looking strong in their innings of work, it’s hopeful to think one of them will leap up to be a viable, long term, option in the rotation.

The Injury Bug is Back Again

The Yankees were besieged by injuries last season. How they managed to pull off over 100 wins is still impressive by all stretches of the imagination. But it would appear that the injury bug is back.

Judge, Paxton, Severino. These are three names we did not want to see experiencing any kind of pain/injury before scrimmage play began. Judge’s shoulder seems to be healing. He has been able to start throwing, and is starting to hit. If he experienced no further discomfort, we’ll see him in right soon enough.

Word is still inconclusive about how long Severino will be out, or just how bad the problem in his forearm/elbow is. The perplexing dilemma about Sevy is the discomfort is coming when he throws his changeup, not his fast OR curveball. Hopefully, we’ll start March with some good news.

Paxton may be able to rehab early enough in the year to return by May. Should Paxton’s recovery be that fast, coupled with German coming back by June, the Yankees are poised to have a lethal and very fresh rotation down the stretch in September?

 

Recaps will continue every Monday, as performances, storylines, and news develop for the start of the Yankees 2020 season.

New York Yankees: Key Position Battles for Spring Training

New York Yankees, Tyler Wade

New York Yankees fans can rejoice. Spring training is… well, pretty much here. Pitchers and catchers report today. It’s now interesting to see just how many position battles are brewing before the Spring Training season officially begins. Here’s a quick rundown:

Number 5 Starter

With James Paxton out until May/June, and Happ sliding in for Domingo German until his suspension is over, there’s an opening in the rotation for the next couple of months. Jordan Montgomery is the odds on favorite, but Luis Cessa and Johnathan Loaisiga have a distinct edge. That edge being… they aren’t coming back from Tommy John Surgery. Devi Garcia is also coming to camp for the first time and can make a legitimate claim for the spot, leapfrogging over the three veterans.

Third Base

Rightfully, third base is Gio Urshela’s to lose. However, Miguel Andujar, who will be tried out at several other positions, will have a chance to take it back. His rehab for his labrum tear began in earnest in September and has more on his side than Urshela. Urshela has to prove that his subpar defensive statistics for 2019 were an anomaly and that his offensive output can be maintained throughout the 2020 campaign.

4th Outfielder

Until Aaron Hicks can come back from Tommy John surgery, the likely outfield configuration will be Aaron Judge, Brett Gardner, and Giancarlo Stanton. Countless Yankee fans want to see Clint Frazier given his opportunity, that his bat is worth the chance in the outfield. But if he can’t improve his defensive capabilities, why would the Yankees need him? Urshela and Andujar will see some time in the outfield, Tyler Wade can play outfield in a pinch, and you’ll have Stanton, Andujar, Voit, and Sanchez all seeing regular time in the DH slot. Where does Frazier fit in if his defense is just as sloppy as it was in 2019?

Backup Catcher

The Yankees have been STOCKPILING on backup catchers in the past few months. This is after Brian Cashman admitted that he’d be comfortable with Kyle Higashioka as the backup after Austin Romine left for the Detroit Tigers. You just signed 3 veteran catchers, all of whom could easily be backups for Gary Sanchez. If they REALLY were feeling comfortable with Higashioka at the backup role, you wouldn’t go out of your way to sign three catchers. I am seriously beginning to question if Higashioka will make it out of Tampa.

These are just some of the position battles to keep an eye on as Spring Training progresses. New York Yankees’ Masahiro Tanaka feels Astros cheated them out of World Series

Should the New York Yankees Acquire Kris Bryant?

New York Yankees, Chicago Cubs, Kris Bryant

The off-season is finally coming to an end, and with baseball back there’s a lot to look forward to in 2020. With the emergence of young teams after a wild offseason, there’s certainly a lot of competition in the league. One of those teams that are presumed to be competing are the Chicago Cubs, who have been in some trade talks. After winning a case against their former MVP winning Kris Bryant that allows them to retain an extra year of control, it seems as if their relationship has been severely damaged. This has led to the Cubs talking to other teams about a deal involving their star third baseman. One of those teams involved? The New York Yankees, but would it make sense for them to land the star 3B?

New York Yankees’ 3B Situation

The New York Yankees are in a peculiar spot at 3B. They have youngster Miguel Andujar and breakout star Giovanni Urshela as their main 3B options. Urshela is 28 and Andujar is going to be 25 in March. These two both have good cases as to why they should start at 3B, but both. raise huge question marks. Urshela has only had one good season and Andujar’s expected stats show he may not be as good as he’s shown alongside his brutal defense. With 3B not being a weak point but not being a strong point either, should the Yankees bring in the star slugger?

Why They Should Trade For Kris Bryant

Kris Bryant is a talent that is rarely seen in the MLB, a 28 year old who’s a 3-time All-Star, Rookie of the Year winner, and MVP winner. His career totals of a .901 OPS, 139 wRC+, .383 wOBA, and 27.8 fWAR in 5 seasons are really good. He’s a certified superstar, and a top 10 3B in baseball. His defense is mediocre, with -1 DRS at 3B, but it’s better than Urshela’s career -4 DRS at 3B. He also runs a 28.2 ft/sec speed, which is good for the 78th percentile. Andujar is close in speed but still slightly slower and Urshela isn’t particularly fast. The New York Yankees would be upgrading a ton at 3B, and would have an answer at 3B who’s the total package.

Why They Shouldn’t Trade For Kris Bryant

The price for such a talent isn’t cheap, and not even just in the monetary aspect. The Chicago Cubs are going to ask for a fortune for the 3B, as they won’t trade a superstar for scraps. They’re looking for players who are either impact-now or soon to be MLB ready prospects. This isn’t a matter of sending a few prospects in A ball, this is going to be trading your prized prospects. Then there’s Bryant’s free agency, which is coming in 2 years. He’s going to ask for a contract most likely of the same value if not greater than Anthony Rendon. He isn’t going to be cheap to resign, and the Yankees would be adding another $30+ million dollar deal to their payroll, with their core pieces having their free agency impending too. This deal could cripple the New York Yankees financially, and is something that is definitely going to be heavily considered.

Trying To Make a Deal?

The deal for Kris Bryant wouldn’t be a small one, you’d have to send over some premium prospects in order to land Bryant. If the New York Yankees were to do it, the deal would look a lot like this:

New York Yankees Receive:

3B/OF Kris Bryant

Chicago Cubs Receive:

3B/1B/OF Miguel Andujar
OF Clint Frazier
OF Estevan Florial
RHP Deivi Garcia
RHP Michael King

This type of deal would send shockwaves across the MLB and would deplete the Yankees farm system quite a bit.

Would you make this deal if you were either team or is this a highway robbery?

New York Yankees: Will Miguel Andujar Play in Left Field?

New York Yankees, Miguel Andujar

The New York Yankees have come out and said that Gio Urshela is going into the spring as their starting third baseman coming off an incredible 2019 season. In 2019, Urshela batted .314, hit 21 home runs and drive home 74 runs. Urshela was incredible at the plate and he was very good in the field. Miguel Andujar, coming off a rookie of the year caliber 2018, missed virtually all of 2019 with a shoulder injury. In 2018, Andujar was great at the plate, but historically bad in the field. Coming off the injury and mix in his terrible defense, and there really shouldn’t be a starting competition for third base in the spring. Now of course, the Yankees want to have Miguel Andujar’s bat in the lineup. So the question becomes, how do the Yankees do it?

Aaron Boone recently flew down and met with Andujar to discuss the two new positions that he would be learning this spring. The two positions would be left field and first base. Personally, I’m not the biggest fan of Andujar at first base. Considering his skill set, I’m not convinced that he would transition to first well. On the other hand, I do think he would transition really well to the outfield. We have seen a number of players make the transition to the outfield from third and have done it successfully. Kris Bryant is a player that comes to mind who has played virtually his whole career at third but played a lot of outfield in 2019. Arguably the best player to transition from third to the outfield would be Alex Gordon of the Kansas City Royals. Alex Gordon is a platinum glove winner for his play in left field. People seem to forget that the first three seasons of his career, Gordon was a third baseman. The Royals transitioned Gordon full time to left field in 2011 where he promptly won a gold glove.

Now, I’m not saying that Miguel Andujar is going to be on the same level as Alex Gordon defensively, but in looking at Andujar, I think he projects well to the outfield. He has pretty good speed, and I think he has pretty good reflexes. A lot of the issues that we saw in 2018 was his throwing and ability to handle certain balls hit right at him. I think first base would be more of a challenge for him to learn than a corner outfield position. I like the idea of letting Stanton and Andujar swap the DH and LF position as we head into 2020. Both bats need to be in a lineup, and I think both could benefit from getting time in left and time just focusing on hitting. It will be interesting to see what the Yankees do as we head into the 2020 season, but I’m definitely taking a flyer on Miguel Andujar in left field during the 2020 season over taking one of him at first base.

New York Yankees Look to Improve Andujar’s Availability

New York Yankees, Miguel Andujar

New York Yankee fans are quick to forget that Miguel Andujar’s bat in the lineup is too good to pass up. They just worry about his defensive capabilities at third base. Why on earth would you not try to find a spot that Andujar could potentially excel at, providing necessary depth in case we see more of the injuries that the Yankees were plagued by last year.

Aaron Boone Heads to the Dominican Republic to Tell Andujar

Aaron Boone recently flew down to the Dominican Republic, Andujar’s home, to tell him to his face that he’ll be learning two new positions this spring. And Andujar appears to be open to the idea. Jack Curry of YES Network reported about Boone’s encounter with Andujar:

“Aaron Boone told us off camera that Andujar’s eyes lit up when he was told that versatility could be his ticket to more at-bats.”

The added depth at first base and left field could prove to be very useful. Look at Stanton’s injury history, as well as the injuries that hampered Luke Voit’s 2019. After looking at Stanton’s past seasons, next season will prove to be average for someone of his skill set, with an explosive 2021 and a very solid 2022. Should Aaron Judge be given a day off in the field, Tauchman playing right and Andujar playing left sounds pretty good. And with DJ being our everyday second baseman in 2020, you won’t have him as readily available to play first.

Then, you’d still have him as an option at third in case Gio gets hurt. Andujar can prove to be the next Eduardo Nunez. Someone who does improve defensively switching positions. He may not become a Gold Glover, but any improvement is a good one.

 

The New York Yankees Should Not Go After Nolan Arenado

New York Yankees, Nolan Arenado

New York Yankees fans are greedy. Their team goes after the big names for the prospect of a championship. It’s something George Steinbrenner popularized back in the ’70s/80’s, and it resulted in a full 15 years between World Series appearances, and closer to 20 years between championships. It just doesn’t work.

But that didn’t stop Yankees fans clamoring for Manny Machado and Bryce Harper last season. The fact remained, the Yankees didn’t need either. Miguel Andujar doesn’t do what Machado does defensively, but you’re not gonna bring in someone like Machado to “get Andujar to improve his defense if he wants a shot.” You bring in someone like Machado to REPLACE Andujar in the lineup, period. And Bryce is only valuable for his power. Hits a ton of home runs, has only driven in 100 RBI’s twice and has an “eh” batting average for an MVP caliber player. Judge doesn’t have an MVP, and HIS career batting average is only .003 points off from Harper’s career average. “Oh, but we need a lefty to balance out the line up!” (Sigh) No, we didn’t then, and we don’t now.

And this is why we can only viably get Nolan Arenado, rumored to be a target of the Yankees for years if we trade Andujar AND Urshela to the Rockies for him.

Not… Worth It

As I’ve documented so many times, Andujar and Urshela (based on their small sample size as starting, everyday players) are the same. Both had amazing offensive numbers (Andujar has better power numbers with less than 100 strikeouts, but Urshela has a better average) with subpar defensive seasons (according to FanGraphs, Andujar was the worst defensive third basemen amongst those who qualified in 2018, Urshela was the second-worst in 2019, representing the likely improvement Andujar realistically could have made). They’re going to duke it out this March for the starting job. 

If you trade for Arenado, you can’t keep both on the team. You have to trade them both.

Urshela’s career dWAR is 0.1 for his career, Andujar’s is -2.5. Arenado has a career dWAR of 14.4! His oWAR of 26.5 also dwarfs both men (4.0 for Andujar, with a career WAR of 1.5, 2.9 and 2.3 oWAR and WAR for Urshela). Oh, and can we talk about how Arenado has a career WAR, going into his age 29 seasons of almost 40? It’s better than Harper’s! (Baseball-reference.com)

“Wait,” some of you are asking “how is trading Urshela and Andujar not worth Arenado?”

The simple, elementary deduction, my dear Watson. Arenado has spent his entire career playing in… Denver, Colorado.

Countless offensive studs have passed through Denver, putting up great power numbers. Then, they leave the Rockies, and they don’t come close to the same season. Arenado has spent his entire career as a Rockie. What makes you think his numbers won’t take a stark nose dive after his first season leaving Denver?

Yes, he is different than DJ. DJ spent most of his career in Denver but was a batting champion. Always a high batting average, with an average of 10(ish) home runs and 50(ish) RBI’s. And we all saw what a career contact hitter in Denver could do, once he got out of Denver.

We also know that New York doesn’t always mean an all-star will succeed there. Sonny Gray was an All-Star in Oakland, was terrible as a Yankee, and became an All-Star again last year pitching in Cincinnati. Robinson Cano, prior to his injuries, was having a real lackluster season in his return to New York, albeit in a different burrow. And while Todd Frazier isn’t a perennial MVP candidate, his worst offensive seasons came… in New York.

Urshela and Andujar have their issues, but we KNOW they can succeed in playing 82 games in the Bronx. You trade for Arenado, those three aren’t fighting to see who gets the job in Spring Training. You trade for Arenado, he’s your starting third baseman, you trade Urshela for Arenado (because he’s out of options), and then you send Andujar to the minors to trade him by the deadline. You got Wade, you got Estrada, and you have DJ to give Arenado his days off in the field (which come few and far between as he averages 150 games played per season).

I’m excited as anyone to see who wins third base. But, please baseball gods, don’t ad Arenado to the mix.