When the non-tender deadline approached shortly before the lockout, New York Yankees fans were waiting for some juicy news to drop. Instead, an email 45 minutes after the news was supposed to break revealed the organization tendered contracts to every single eligible player.
This was, of course, after the Yankees released Clint Frazier, who was expected to be among the non-tenders had he remained with the team up until that point. Frazier was the forefront of the non-tender conversation and was accompanied by Miguel Andújar, who many fans thought was a foregone conclusion to be cut loose.
What role does he have? None. What position does he play? Also … none? What’s his trade value? Next to zero.
So why did the Yankees retain him? Why did the cost-conscious front office opt to pay him close to $2 million for 2022 when there’s not even a spot on the bench for him?
The sole reason Andújar carries any value is because he has one minor-league option remaining, but again, that value would be exponentially higher elsewhere because the Yankees have superior talents on the defensive side of the ball where he would play. On top of that, Andújar’s former agent complained about his client being stuck in the minor leagues during the shortened 2020 … which likely means Andújar doesn’t want that to be his fate yet again.
Is it possible the front office just couldn’t fathom cutting bait with two former top talents they were expecting to make a major impact?
What’s the Yankees’ plan with Miguel Andújar?
Andújar played 45 games with the Yankees in 2021 and hit just .253 with a .667 OPS. He had six homers and two doubles in 162 plate appearances, a far cry from his 2018 campaign, which feels like a decade ago. It’s clear Andújar cannot find success as a part-time player or bench piece given the way he’s able to perform with consistent playing time.
But then again, we have no evidence of that outside of 2018. Since that year, he’s played in just 115 total games between the Yankees, the minor leagues, and the Dominican Winter League. He’s turning 27 years old before the 2022 season. And the Yankees have done him no favors booting him off third base and testing him in the outfield, where he was nothing short of awful.
Meanwhile, the Yankees traded Tyler Wade, someone who successfully embraced the utility role he was forced into by playing adequate defense at multiple positions … something Andújar can’t really do at a single position.
With so much of the conversation this offseason focusing on the Yankees upgrading their depth on top of filling gaping holes at first base, shortstop and center field, we truly had no idea why keeping Andújar was even under consideration ahead of the non-tender deadline. Let’s hope there are bigger and better plans in store for the Yankees post-lockout or else we’ll be looking at another grim campaign.