Yankees: Where will Miguel Andujar fit into the lineup in 2020?
After having an incredible rookie campaign in 2018 Yankees third basemen Miguel Andujar only played in 12 games in 2019 before a torn right labrum forced him to miss the rest of the season. In his absence, Gio Urshela took over and had a career-year that likely cemented himself as the starting third basemen in 2020.
What does the future hold for Miguel Andujar in pinstripes? That’s a question that’s hard to answer right now after the lost season he just had and the incredible breakout season Gio Urshela put together. The labrum injury was something totally out of Anduajr’s control but it likely cost him his spot as the Yankees starting third basemen next season. That’s just the hard truth, but that doesn’t mean he’s not going to have a big role to play for the Yanks in 2020.
Unfortunately for Miggy, Gio has earned the right to enter camp next spring as the starter based on his play this past season. Defensively he’s in a class well above Miggy at the hot corner and offensively he proved to be a force. He might regress somewhat at the plate next season but there’s no reason to believe he’ll revert back to the hitter he was before he joined the Yankees.
The Yanks are in a tricky spot with Andujar entering this offseason and probably need to rethink what position would fit him best if he remains with the club in 2020. I say if because there’s always the possibility he gets traded, even though I personally hope he stays. His bat is legit and I think the Yankees would be crazy to part with him after one injury-plagued season. He’s still only 24-years old and his future remains extremely bright regardless of what position he plays. So unless they can acquire a game-changing ace starting pitcher in return for him he should be kept at all costs.
It’s no secret that Andujar struggled a lot defensively during his rookie year so it might not be the worst career move for him to switch to a new position. Obviously, the Yankees are pretty deep at each position especially in the infield, but if Miggy is healthy next season you can bet Aaron Boone is going to find a way to get his bat into the lineup on a consistent basis.
The Yankee offense fared just fine without him in 2019 but they’ll be even better with him next season. He doesn’t strike out a lot and his ability to hit for a high average and hit for power to all fields is something you rarely see from young players. He’s already a special hitter and if he can improve his plate discipline and raise his OBP in the coming years he could be one of the best all-around hitters in baseball.
A switch to the outfield?
Now the question is what position should he play in 2020? In a perfect world he could become the Yankees primary DH, but with Giancarlo Stanton and his massive contract still on the roster that’s probably not going to happen. Miggy could get some starts every now and then at DH but I don’t think the Yanks want Stanton playing a lot of outfield next season so it’s hard to see him carving out an everyday role at that position.
One option I’m sure the Yankees have to be thinking about is moving him to left field. That would be a tough transition, but he’s got an entire offseason to prepare and I think Miggy is a good enough athlete to be able to handle it.
Entering this offseason there might be an opening at the position so this is definitely something the Yanks should be considering. Even if Brett Gardner is re-signed, which many expect he will be, he’s going to be the Yankees starting center fielder until Aaron Hicks returns from injury.
In left field, Mike Tauchman and Clint Frazier project to split a lot of the reps but I think there’s a good chance Frazier is traded this offseason. Tauchman is also going to play some center field to give Gardner a rest so there should be plenty of at-bats to go around for Miggy if the plan is to move him to the outfield.
What about first base?
The Yankees infield will continue to be pretty stacked at each position even if Didi Gregorius leaves and signs with another team as a free agent this offseason. Whether Didi stays or not there still wouldn’t be a starting spot for Andujar in the infield next season unless the Yankees plan on moving him to first base.
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We haven’t heard what Brian Cashman and company’s plans are for Miggy this offseason, but if they think he’s capable of shifting to first base that’s where he should play. Excluding DJ LeMahieu (who could end up being the full-time 2B), it’s not like any of the Yankees other first base options are great defensively and none of them are better hitters than Miggy.
Luke Voit will probably be back as will Mike Ford, but if the Yankees believe Andujar can become a solid first baseman they should trade Voit for bullpen help and let Miggy take over as the everyday guy. The Yanks could than still keep Ford on the roster and have him the be both the backup first basemen and DH.
This route makes the most sense for Miggy, although as we saw this past season plans can change quickly if the injuries start piling up again. That’s why it’s still too early to predict which position he’ll play in 2020 but again, as long as he’s healthy the Yankees will find a spot for him to make a big impact.