It’s about as unpopular a take as there is, but demoting Miguel Andujar might be the only way to ensure he sticks longterm with the New York Yankees.
New York Yankees third baseman Miguel Andujar doesn’t deserve to be demoted. But with Brandon Drury nearing a return from the disabled list, a trip back to Triple-A is the only way to ensure Andujar remains a Yankee for the long haul.
You don’t have to read between the lines to know that the Yankees plan on giving Drury back the third base job upon his return. “Frankly, we view him [Drury] as a front-line third baseman,” manager Aaron Boone told George A. King III of the New York Post recently.
While Drury is versatile enough to play second base, the Yankees don’t seem eager to cut into top prospect Gleyber Torres‘ playing time at the keystone. Which leaves the hot corner the only spot for Drury to play—at Andujar’s expense.
Sure, keeping Andujar around would bolster the team’s bench, but playing once or twice a week is about the worst possible thing for the 23-year-old’s continued development. He needs to play every day—and he needs to become a more versatile player.
He can accomplish both with the team’s Triple-A affiliate, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Railriders.
Lest we forget, the plan for Andujar coming out of spring training, as MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch reported in late March, was for him to spend some time on the other side of the diamond at first base.
Miguel Andujar will dabble at first base this season. Brian Cashman said there will be an 80-20 split between Andujar's third base work and his time at first base.
— Bryan Hoch (@BryanHoch) March 24, 2018
But Andujar was back with the Yankees before the minor league season even got underway, giving the organization no chance to put that plan into action. A plan, by the way, that will need some tweaking.
Rather than have Andujar spend 80 percent of his time at third base and only 20 percent of his time at first, it should be closer to a 50-50 split or, perhaps, 60-40 in favor of first base.
For first base is where Andujar will find the best chance for regular playing time in the Bronx. He’s better than Tyler Austin and Neil Walker and far more reliable than Greg Bird, who has held the “first baseman of the future” title for years without proving it.
That’s not a knock on Bird’s talent or his sweet swing, which is inarguably a perfect fit in Yankee Stadium. But facts are facts, and the fact is that Bird is an injury prone player, someone who last played in more than 100 games back in 2014.
The last time he played in more than 120 games? It was six years ago, back in 2013 when he appeared in 130 games with Single-A Charleston. Simply put, the Yankees would be insane to count on him to be healthy enough to live up to expectations.
They need a legitimate insurance policy, someone who can fill in the next time he winds up on the disabled list and, more to the point, someone who can split time with him at the position when he’s healthy to limit the wear-and-tear on his body.
With all due respect to Mike Ford and Ryan McBroom, who have been holding things down at first base for the RailRiders, Andujar wouldn’t be cutting into the playing time of big-time prospects.
Same goes for third base, where Abiatal Avelino, Cody Asche, and Billy Fleming have split time.
Let Andujar run wild at the infield corners in Triple-A, getting the experience he needs at first while continuing to improve his footwork at third. When injury or incompetence strikes, the Yanks can bring him back.
Making sure he can play both infield corners well is the only way to make sure that the next time he shows up in the Bronx will be for good.