The Yankees may be forced to trade Miguel Andujar to make room for Manny Machado, but it’s very possible they may move him to first base instead.
Miguel Andujar’s defensive deficiencies at third base kept him on the bench for the most important game of the Yankees season in 2018. His inability to be an adequate defender may have even more significant ramifications for his future with the team.
It’s definitely possible that Andujar might be dealt before next season. It’s no secret the Yankees have a lot of interest in signing Manny Machado in free agency. That would be an expensive move for Brian Cashman, but Machado is a generational talent. Making room for him in Aaron Boone’s lineup would require displacing either Andujar or Didi Gregorius.
Given Cashman’s recent public declaration that he wants Gregorius to be the team’s shortstop of the present and future, it’s pretty obvious Andujar is the more likely player to make way. Trading him isn’t the only alternative the Yankees front office is considering though. According to Jon Heyman, there are significant voices inside the organization who believe Andujar’s future actually lies at the first base position.
A move across the diamond would go a long way towards easing Andujar’s defensive burdens. His biggest issue at the hot corner is his inconsistent throwing motion. That’s a huge issue for a player required to make strong throws all the way across the infield. That’s not something a first baseman is required to do on a regular basis.
Of course, moving to first wouldn’t suddenly transform Andujar into a gold glover. Significant work would still need to be done to improve his defensive footwork. He’s currently working hard on that aspect of his game in preparation to play third next season. In other words, the work he’s doing now would also benefit him if he moved to first.
The overall idea here is to keep Andujar’s powerful bat in the lineup on a daily basis. His explosive work with his bat is what powered him to finish second in the AL Rookie of the Year voting this season. The Yankees would love to find a way to keep such a potent hitter on the field in big games. The reality is Andujar needs to find a position he can field adequately or he’s not going to have a bright future in the Bronx.