Yankees call up 3B Giovanny Urshela; send down IF Thairo Estrada
Thairo Estrada received his first big league call-up prior to Thursday’s game against the Orioles, but his stay was shortlived. Estrada will have to wait before he makes his major league debut after the Yankees sent him down on Saturday and selected the contract of veteran 3B Giovanny Urshela.
When Troy Tulowitzki went down with a calf strain on Wednesday the Yankees were limited with internal infield options to choose from to replace him on the 25-man roster. At the time the 23-year-old Estrada was the only healthy infielder left on the 40-man roster and even though he’s yet to really conquer the Triple-A level the Yankees were forced to make the decision to call him up.
Estrada is coming off an injury-plagued 2018 after he was shot during a robbery attempt in his native Venezuela last January. In what was supposed to be a crucial year in his development Estrada only played in 18 games (8 at AAA) and hit .192 for the season. He didn’t get the bullet taken out of right thigh until July so it pretty much ended up being a lost season for him.
This spring Estrada impressed at camp, but the plan was always for him to start the year in Scranton and hopefully put together a full, healthy season. Aaron Boone said the other day he believes Estrada has the tools to be an impact player at the major league level for years to come, but clearly, he wasn’t ready to be one with the big club just yet.
He still needs more fine tuning at Triple-A and if he can put together a productive season down there we could see him in the Bronx later this summer. For now, the Yankees need a veteran infielder who has big league experience and plays solid defense and Gio Urshela can do just that. In order to make room on the 40-man, the Yanks moved Didi Gregorius to the 60-day IL as he continues to recover from Tommy John surgery.
Urshela can play all over the infield but he’s a gold glove caliber defender at third base so it will be interesting to see how Boone shuffles the lineup when he starts.
With Tulo out Gleyber Torres will certainly see more time at shortstop moving forward as will Tyler Wade. Urshela can pick it as well as anyone but he struggles offensively (.227 career BA) so it’s unlikely we’ll see him in the starting lineup on an everyday basis. With that being said I expect to see D.J. LeMahieu continue to get the bulk of the starts at third and on the days Urshela starts he’ll shift back to his customary position at second.
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With Tulo and Miguel Andujar both down either Wade or Urshela are going to be in the lineup every day. Since both players can really defend their positions the decision on who plays more often is probably going to come down to who produces more offensively.
Neither one has had much success with the bat in limited big league action but unless the Yankees make a trade or sign another infielder they’re both going to play.
Given Tulowitzki’s injury history and the possibility that Andujar might need season-ending surgery, there’s no telling when either will return so Urshela is going to get a long look. Now it’s up to him to make the most of this opportunity.