While I’m all for the Yankees plugging in Miguel Andujar at third base, if you honestly think he’ll be as productive in his rookie season as Mike Moustakas, you’re living in a fantasy world.
The thing is, I’ve been talking up Miguel Andujar for almost two full years as the Yankees third baseman of the future. Less than one week from the start of Spring Training, the future looks to be turning into the present.
However, along the way, the Yanks circumvented the typical course of a rebuilding team, making it within one game of the World Series last October. Expectations grew.
Then free agency opened, and many of the top available names gained zero traction. Franchise cornerstones such as Eric Hosmer, JD Martinez and Yu Darvish remain unemployed.
At this stage in the game, there is one player that remains in wake that would push the Yankees over the top — a guy coming off a career-high 38 homers and 85 RBI.
Before the offseason, MLB Trade Rumors projected that Mike Moustakas would garner a five-year, $85 million contract. Four months later and it’s safe to say, that huge figure isn’t happening.
I realize suggesting the Yankees even contemplate Moustakas for a single year is sacrilege in the eyes of prospect huggers everywhere.
TBS’ Casey Stern said it best, “Prospects are cool, parades are cooler.”
Moose is the type of hitter that can single-handedly win you a few extra ballgames during the regular season — thus securing home-field advantage throughout the playoffs; making your march to the Fall Classic a bit more manageable.
For instance, if Moustakas were to be offered similar one-year deals by the Yankees and his former club, the Royals, which do you think he would accept?
I understand that taking the lone contractual year is a gamble with Manny Machado and Josh Donaldson set to hit the market in 2019, but the free agency landscape can’t get any bleaker than it already is.
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A left-handed stick in the middle of that potent right-handed heavy Yankee lineup, playing 81 games in the Bronx Bandbox certainly won’t hurt Moose’s chances at a multi-year deal next offseason.
The thing is, I hear the reasons why the Bombers should avoid Moustakas — the loss of a draft pick, loss of International bonus money, his below average defense.
However, what’s more important to you, winning a World Series in 2018, or another second-round draft pick to add to the stockpile we already have?
Yes, his -8 defensive runs saved is the third worst among qualifying third baseman, but a shaky glove is one of Andujar’s most significant flaws too.
Now the rookie is expected to put the bat on the ball with regularity, but if you think the 22-year-old won’t incur some rookie rut, then you’re fooling yourself.
Should a dry spell incur, it’s back to Ronald Torreyes, Tyler Wade or Danny Espinosa. Perhaps even worse, Joel Sherman feels the Yanks will inevitably bring in free agent Neil Walker as an insurance policy.
Walker, who is also limited defensively, only managed to hit 14 homers in ’17 due to a string of nagging injuries. Even so, MLB Trade Rumors still projected the ex-Met to make $20 million over two years. Ten million dollars per season, no bueno.
If the Royals were to sweeten the pot and send a two-year, $25 million contract Moose’s way, he’d be forced to accept. There’s no way the Yankees would consider this, and that’s fine.
Andujar is still the future at third base, and yes, the best way to find out is to play him, but you have to be ready to ride the ups and downs that come with no big league experience. A World Series caliber team has little time for slumps.
By signing Moose, the Yanks allow Andujar an extra season at Triple-A to fix his defensive flaws. In turn, the organization gets a more precise picture if Andy’s fully ready to take over the hot corner in 2019 or rather if they need to pursue Manny Machado and his $250+ million price tag.
One-year, $13 million, take it or leave it, Moose. It’s the same amount of money the club would have paid Chase Headley in ’18. Either way, the Yankees are primed for a big season.