If Miguel Andujar proves that he is adept at playing left field this spring, his inclusion on the Yankees major league roster likely forces Clint Frazier back down to Triple-A.
After missing all but 12 games last season after partially tearing his right labrum, Yankees manager Aaron Boone has already stated that Miguel Andujar will get a ton of reps this spring, both in left field and at first base.
Boone tells Scott Thompson of SNY that he expects Andujar to get his first outfield game action this weekend.
"“I think the good thing is, physically speaking, Miggy’s feeling well and we feel like in a good place and ready to go and game ready. We’ll get him out there in a lot of different situations and even positions. But, at the same time, being mindful of the demands that this creates and something new that we have to be mindful of.”"
Because Gio Ursehla had a breakout campaign in 2019 and comes into the new season as the starting third baseman, Boone will get creative to find Andujar at-bats.
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Naturally, the 2018 AL Rookie of the Year runner-up will first need to prove he has knocked off the rust from his extended absence. If Andujar picks up where he left off in ’18, his game-changing ability to swing the bat will complicate the lineup — in a good way.
The simplest situation would be to platoon Giancarlo Stanton and Andujar between left field and DH. Since both come with questionable defensive ability (Stanton was far more confident in right field with the Marlins), either could start in the field before being removed in the final inning for a plus-defender like Mike Tauchman.
Tauchman, himself, had a career-year in 2019 — and he too will be in the fight to claim playing time in left field; however, he needs to prove last season was no fluke. Although Tauchman’s left-handed stick could give him an advantage, 365 plate appearances in three big league seasons is a rather small sample size to rely upon.
As for Clint Frazier, yet again, he’ll be fighting an uphill battle for a major league role. We haven’t heard a lot from the 25-year-old this winter — which I suppose is a good thing.
The truth is Frazier is immensely talented — and a dynamic performance during the Grapefruit League could force the Yankees to keep him. However, will he be happy riding the bench? Sure, Frazier can hit with the best of ’em, but here’s another young guy that struggles in the field.
I mean, how many DH’s can one team possibly carry?
Hopefully, Aaron Judge’s achy right shoulder is something that clears up sooner rather than later. Otherwise, the number of bus rides from Scranton to the Bronx will once again be a source of frustration.
With the implementation of the 26th man on the major league roster (which cannot be a relief pitcher), I fully expect either Tyler Wade’s multipositional ability or Mike Ford’s left-handed hitting, first base playing, to win the final spot.
For now, Luke Voit is the Yankees’ starting first baseman — as he too looks to rebound from offseason surgery. So even though Andujar is expected to learn the nuances of first base in camp, he’s still well behind the eight-ball. It’s too bad Voit or Ford doesn’t instill much confidence around the bag. Maybe that’s Andujar’s inevitable position, but he’ll need time to prove it.