Miguel Andujar’s journey from American League Rookie of the Year runner-up to organizational depth in the Bronx has been well-chronicled by now, and the it’s long seemed possible he could find himself with a clean slate and fresh opportunity before next Tuesday’s trade deadline. Jon Heyman of the New York Post writes in his latest notes column that the Yankees are “trying to deal” Andujar, who first requested a trade in early June.
Still just 27 years old, Andujar finished second in AL Rookie of the Year voting with a .297/.328/.527 batting line and 27 home runs back in 2018. A shoulder injury ruined his 2019 season, however, and a series of other Yankees acquisitions and/or breakouts (e.g. DJ LeMahieu, Gio Urshela, Josh Donaldson, Joey Gallo) have combined to limit Andujar’s opportunities in the Majors since that time. He’s worked to improve his defensive versatility, learning left field and first base in addition to his customary slot at the hot corner, but it still hasn’t resulted in much in the way of big league playing time.
Since returning from that 2019 shoulder surgery, Andujar has received just 279 plate appearances with the Yankees. In the team’s defense, he hasn’t hit well at all in that time, slashing just .249/.280/.358. Then again, the playing time has been sporadic, with Andujar always keenly aware that he could be optioned at any time. The Yankees have optioned Andujar to Triple-A Scranton a whopping nine times since Opening Day 2020, and even during his stints with the big league club, he hasn’t been a regular in the lineup.
There’s no denying that Andujar hasn’t forced the team’s hand, and with stronger big league production he’d likely have found his way back into the fold. We often hear about hitters struggling through inconsistent usage, though, and at least based on his Triple-A output, there’s a case to be made that Andujar’s big league struggles can be at least partially attributed to his lack of a role. The competition in Triple-A is obviously far weaker, but Andujar has nonetheless slashed .304/.355/.516 with 15 home runs, 13 doubles, five stolen bases (in five tries) and just an 11.4% strikeout rate through his past 299 Triple-A plate appearances (2020-21). Despite that production, the Yankees have given him 52 big league plate appearances this season.
Trading Andujar is something of a tricky notion for a few reasons. The Yankees clearly value him as a depth option and don’t simply want to give him away for nothing of value in return. At the same time, his stock isn’t exactly at a high point, given the lack of recent MLB production. A contending club isn’t likely to surrender a prospect pf any note and plug Andujar right into the lineup at third base as they push for a postseason berth. Similarly, a club in the midst of a pure rebuild (the Nationals, for instance) may not relish the idea of surrendering long-term value in order to acquire a player who’s only controlled another two years beyond the current season.
Regardless of the specific fit, a deal involving Andujar seems likely to come together either in the next few days or over the winter. He’s in his final minor league option season, meaning the Yankees will need to carry him on the Major League roster next year or else place him on waivers before being sent down to Triple-A, and he’d surely be claimed by another club at that point. The Andujar dilemma has been ongoing in the Bronx for what seems like forever, but perhaps it’s finally headed toward a resolution.