Lots of MLB teams are interested in acquiring Miguel Andujar this winter, but should the Yankees part ways with the young third baseman?
Last winter the idea of the Yankees trading Miguel Andujar would have been laughable. One year later it’s a topic that may very well be on the front burner for Brian Cashman and his front office over the next several weeks.
According to Cashman, he’s fielding “a lot of interest” in the 24-year-old slugger. The combination of Andujar’s lost season due to injury with Gio Urshela’s meteoric rise to stardom has thrown the Yankees’ third base position into flux.
The safe choice for the Yankees would be to let both players battle it out for the starting job in Spring Training. Andujar’s rookie season proved that he has the ability to be an extremely valuable bat in Aaron Boone’s lineup. Pounding out 47 doubles and 27 home runs in your first season in the majors is a great way to get people’s attention.
Unfortunately, Andujar’s poor defense eroded a great deal of the value he provided offensively. The organization hoped he would show signs of significant progress in 2019, but injury robbed him of that opportunity. As such, the Yankees are still largely in the dark over whether or not they can expect Andujar to become a competent third baseman in the near future.
While Andujar languished in rehab, Urshela seized the third base position for his own. He was unquestionably the Yankees’ biggest surprise of the season. No one predicted him posting a WAR of 3.4 powered by a large spike in batting productivity. Urshela is also a much more steady defensive presence at the hot corner compared to Andujar.
The question about Urshela is whether or not his 2019 season was a fluke. Optimistic Yankees officials believe his adjustments at the plate are real and should allow him to continue to post strong numbers moving forward. More pessimistic members of the front office are understandably concerned that his hitting will regress to his career mean in 2020.
At the very least, there’s certainly a risk that Urshela isn’t the player Yankees fans saw in 2019. That doesn’t mean the organization should dismiss the idea of moving Andujar this winter. There’s always a chance that neither player is going to emerge as the franchise’s third base starter for years to come.
As such, the question of whether or not the Yankees should deal Andujar this winter comes down to the potential value they can receive in a trade. He might be a slightly distressed asset due to last season’s injury, but there’s no reason to think he can’t return in 2020 and be largely the same player he was back in 2018. Cashman and his front office must value him like a player who can develop into a borderline All-Star hitter.
A 24-year-old with that kind of natural ability and team control should be an extremely valuable asset on the trade market. In a perfect world, the Yankees could flip Andujar for a player of similar age and talent level. The organization would love to turn Andujar into a young pitcher who could slot into the rotation as a top-end starter sooner, rather than later, but that might be too much to reasonably hope for.
A more likely potential deal for the Yankees would be to package Andujar with another young player who isn’t in the team’s long-term plans to acquire a player capable of helping the team immediately. Combining Andujar with someone like Greg Bird or Clint Frazier could net Cashman a group of high-level prospects or immediate contributor capable of really moving the needle for Boone’s team in 2020.
In the end, the Yankees need to discuss Andujar with every other team that expresses interest in him. Their asking price should be high though. He should not be moved unless the Yankees get either a top-50 prospect or young major leaguer ready to contribute immediately to a World Series contender in return. Cashman should only move Andujar from a position of strength.