NEW YORK -- It was only 12 months ago that Miguel Andújar finished second behind Shohei Ohtani in the chase for the American League Rookie of the Year Award, yet his name has not been among those most frequently mentioned when discussing the Yankees’ plans for 2020. Such is life when injuries shorten your season to a dozen games.
Yet at this early stage of the offseason, general manager Brian Cashman finds himself daydreaming about ways that the Yankees could wedge Andújar’s powerful bat into the mix, whether it be at an infield corner, as a designated hitter or perhaps in the outfield.
“Miguel Andújar is a tremendous bat,” Cashman said on Tuesday at the General Managers Meetings in Scottsdale, Ariz. “If you look at the [.855] OPS he put up, if it wasn't for Ohtani, he'd have been Rookie of the Year two years ago, right? Breaking certain rookie records that were held by Joe DiMaggio and stuff -- it was incredibly impressive.”
Andújar, who turns 25 in March, began 2019 on the Yanks’ Opening Day roster but sustained a right shoulder injury during the first homestand. Limited to six hits in 47 at-bats (.128), he underwent season-ending surgery in May, by which time Gio Urshela had claimed third base while emerging as a consistent contributor on both sides of the ball.
“Because of Urshela, it gives us some things to kick around,” Cashman said. “If Gio continues to hold that position, you're going to want to see if you can find that way to get [Andújar’s] bat in that lineup. Can he play first? Can he play the outfield? You know, you start playing with those mind games.”
Andújar hit .297/.328/.527 with 47 doubles, 27 homers and 92 RBIs in 149 games in 2018. Cashman likened his situation to that once experienced by former big leaguer Alfonso Soriano, whose thunderous bat forced the Yanks to plug him into the lineup sooner than anticipated.
“It was like, ‘Wow, this guy's too good to send down to Triple-A,’” Cashman said. “It was like, ‘How can we keep this dynamic bat?’ I can't dispute that I've run through my mind about Andújar that way too, because he's a special kid. He's really talented. You know what he can do with the bat. And it's not a bad problem to have.”
While Cashman said he has made early contact with free agent Didi Gregorius’ agent, Jim Murray, regarding a reunion, the GM also noted that Gregorius and the Yankees were unable to find traction on a potential contract extension this past spring.
“It's just too early to tell how things shake out,” Cashman said. “I know that [the infield is] good right now, and my job is to see if I can make it better.”