Miguel Andujar
ESNY Graphic, AP Photo

The New York Yankees need a pitcher and are reportedly willing to offer up Miguel Andujar in a deal. It’s the right move. 

Josh Benjamin

In case anyone forgot, Miguel Andujar is still on the New York Yankees.

It’s not surprising some of us might have forgotten. After all, Andujar played in only 12 games this year and had season-ending shoulder surgery back in May. Moreover, Gio Urshela has done a great job filling in, batting .306 with 11 home runs and 48 RBI while also playing stellar defense.

Now, consider how crowded the rest of New York’s infield is. Well, per longtime MLB insider Jon Heyman, the pitching-needy Yankees are willing to include Andujar in potential trades.

Folks, plenty of you have watched the Yankees for the past week, same as I have. Results aside, one thing is clear. The pitching staff is tired, banged up, generally inadequate, or all of the above.

Granted, a week is a lifetime for any pitching staff and the Yankees’ arms should bounce back. Still, with all of the new question marks surrounding Miguel Andujar, it might be best to trade him to fill a more immediate need.

From rookie high to sophomore stumble

After the 2018 season, everything was coming up roses for Andujar. He hit .297 with 27 homers and 92 RBI and finished second in AL Rookie of the Year voting to Los Angeles Angels two-way man Shohei Ohtani.

Andujar also turned heads with his 47 doubles. He just had a natural knack for getting the barrel of the bat on the ball. It didn’t matter he ranked as the worst defensive third baseman in all MLB. His bat was enough to compensate for shoddy glovework, the latter of which could surely be fixed with coaching.

Naturally, Andujar realized this and spent his offseason working on his defense. Heyman reported back in December the young third baseman could be on the market, as the San Diego Padres expressed interest before signing Manny Machado.

Fast forward to today, and Andujar’s spot in the lineup isn’t as secure as it once was. Urshela has finally come into his own as a major league talent. DJ LeMahieu, originally signed as infield depth, leads the American League in hitting. Gleyber Torres will only continue to get better, and Didi Gregorius’ value speaks for itself despite his upcoming free agency.

Long story short, GM Brian Cashman has some decisions to make, and soon.

Pitching wanted

Now, let’s shift the conversation to the trade market. The Yankees are determined to add an arm after the starters couldn’t pitch more than five innings for six games in a row. Top prospect Deivi Garcia isn’t going anywhere, so Cashman will have to get creative if he wants to make a deal.

It doesn’t matter if Cashman pursues Madison Bumgarner or Noah Syndergaard more. Adding Miguel Andujar to a deal for any of them or someone like Robbie Ray or Matthew Boyd makes the offer all the more attractive.

Look at it this way. Of all the pitchers who could be traded, they will be because their current team wants to cut costs. This way, the Yankees get a (hopefully) reliable arm to stabilize the rotation, and another team receives a young and powerful hitter still over a year away from arbitration.

Crunch time

But if Cashman wants to trade Andujar, he has to do it now. The lack of an August 31 waiver deadline this year means all business must be concluded by Wednesday. There is no grace period which will allow an Andrew McCutchen-type to fall into New York’s lap. Either an arm is acquired by July 31, or an arm isn’t acquired at all.

Now, let’s go back to Miguel Andujar’s injury. He tore his labrum in his throwing shoulder which, were he a pitcher, would raise serious concerns about his future.

New York Yankees

Well, the concerns are going to be there for him anyway because his right shoulder drives the momentum of his swing. Not only that but what if he has trouble making throws from third base? The Yankees could hang onto him, but Luke Voit has first base locked down and trading any of the other infielders is hard to justify, even looking towards next year.

This means Cashman has to work his magic in the following way. He needs to sell a team looking to unload a pitcher on the idea of Andujar switching to first base. Switching across the diamond puts less stress on his arm and allows him to focus more on getting his swing right.

The point is, when healthy, Miguel Andujar’s swing is reminiscent of Thor wielding Mjolnir. It’s the best part of his game and the Yankees have a crowded infield. Why not take advantage of the one part of his game which could survive a major surgery?

Final thoughts

All in all, it’s more likely the Yankees don’t trade Andujar. Baseball is in an era of home runs and solid a fill-in Gio Urshela has been, he just isn’t a power hitter. It’s more likely outfield prospects Clint Frazier and Estevan Florial will be packaged together in any trade, leaving the Yankees to assume the risk of Andujar’s shoulder.

In this writer’s opinion, this would be a mistake. Urshela getting the New York analytics team’s attention wasn’t a fluke, nor an accident. Better to trade Miguel Andujar’s high-ceiling bat for pitching and invest in Urshela’s defense.

Mind you, this isn’t to discount anything Andujar has done in pinstripes. Rough defense aside, he had a great overall rookie year. Unfortunately, between a serious injury and what the team needs right now, it might be best if he continues his comeback elsewhere. The Yankees’ need for pitching, especially as we near the dog days of August, just looms that large.

Cashman, your move.

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