NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 01: Miguel Andujar #41 of the New York Yankees looks on from the dugout in the ninth inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Yankee Stadium on August 1, 2018 in the Bronx borough of New York City.
(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Miguel Andujar and Gary Sanchez will play winter ball in the Dominican Republic after having forgettable 2020 seasons.

New York Yankees third baseman and outfielder Miguel Andujar will play winter baseball for the Dominican Republic’s Toros Del Este. ESPN’s Enrique Rojas learned of Andujar’s offseason plans from Toros manager Lino Rivera.

Additionally, according to Dominican radio station Pio Deportes, Rivera added catcher Gary Sanchez also plans to join the team this offseason.

It may not seem like much, but this is a really big deal. Neither Sanchez nor Andujar performed well in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. Andujar, the runner-up for 2018 AL Rookie of the Year, spent most of the year at the alternate site as he worked his way back from shoulder surgery. He hit .242 with a home run and five RBIs in 21 games but was again a complete liability in the field.

Sanchez, meanwhile, seemed a shell of himself at just 27 years old. He hit 10 home runs with 24 RBIs but posted an abysmal .147/.253/.365 line. Sanchez also posted a horrific K% of 36%. This would have been fourth-worst in MLB had he had enough plate appearances.

Both Miguel Andujar and Gary Sanchez playing Dominican winter ball mean they know it’s time to get serious. As in, they know they’re at a career crossroads. They need to either get better or they’ll wash out of the league. Even though 2020 was a season unlike any other, the small sample size shows serious holes in their game.

For Andujar, it’s not so much about getting back with the Yankees. Rather, he’ll probably focus on improving his glove to the point where the Yankees can sell him as a potential outfielder/DH in a trade. His breakout year in the Bronx was nice, but Gio Urshela is just too good to bench outright.

Sanchez’s path is a little different. Bryan Hoch of MLB.com already reported the former All-Star would work remotely with Yankees catching coordinator Tanner Swanson. In winter ball, however, it’s more likely he’ll work on taking a more balanced approach at the plate. This means focusing not just on power, but contact and situational hitting.

Hopefully, playing winter ball is just what the doctor ordered for Gary Sanchez and Miguel Andujar. Both are talented hitters who deserve better than to worry about washing out of baseball at such a young age. More importantly, both (especially Sanchez) have strong work ethics and are motivated to come back strong in 2021.

Be sure to stay tuned to ESNY for further offseason updates!

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