The Yankees are headed to Tampa for a four-game set this weekend, but Miguel Andujar won’t be joining them. Instead, the former AL Rookie of the Year runner-up will head to Scranton along with teammates Thairo Estrada and Nick Nelson, who were also demoted following Wednesday’s doubleheader split with Philadelphia.
It’s not a surprising outcome for Andujar given the 25-year-old’s recent ineffectiveness—he’s hit a dismal .071 in limited at-bats this season. But it’s still quite a departure from two years ago when Andujar had the look of a promising up-and-comer, leading all major-league rookies in hits (170), home runs (27), doubles (47) and RBI (92). Andujar was arguably the more deserving candidate that year, but finished second to Angels hybrid Shohei Ohtani in 2018 Rookie of the Year balloting.
It’s been downhill for the Dominican Republic native ever since. Andujar barely played last season and was awful when he did, contributing a dreadful .128 average across 47 injury-plagued at-bats. Following shoulder surgery, Andujar returned to the Bronx hopeful of better results in 2020. But with the Bombers entering the year relatively healthy for a change, that opportunity never presented itself.
For Andujar, it was simply a case of too many cooks in the kitchen. Similar to teammate Clint Frazier who, despite his first-round pedigree, has yet to carve out a meaningful role at the major-league level, there was simply no place to put Andujar with Gio Urshela entrenched at the hot corner and Luke Voit seeing most of New York’s reps across the diamond at first base. With DHing also off the table (that spot is reserved for Giancarlo Stanton), manager Aaron Boone went for broke, allowing Andujar a chance to prove himself in left field. That experiment rendered mixed results (one error in four games).
Andujar may have gotten a raw deal—rhythm can be hard to come by when you’re only seeing sporadic at-bats. But there’s a reason the Yankees are in first place—New York’s talent-flush roster is one of the deepest in baseball. Held back by Urshela’s emergence and his own defensive shortcomings, there was simply no room at the inn for Andujar.
For the time being, New York will stash Andujar at the club’s minor-league facility in PA, where he’ll serve as valuable depth should injuries arise. After the Yankees weathered a biblical wave of injuries in 2019, having a proven asset in Andujar at the ready could come in handy. Of course, New York also has the option to shop Andujar who, despite his recent struggles, could probably start on a number of MLB teams. A .282 lifetime hitter in the big leagues, Andujar could conceivably benefit from a change of scenery.
Should the Yankees cut their losses or hold onto Andujar in hopes that he’ll eventually return to his 2018 form? GM Brian Cashman is probably wondering that himself right about now.