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Inbox: How will Yankees use Andujar in 2019?

Beat reporter Bryan Hoch answers questions from fans
December 21, 2018

If the Yankees sign Manny Machado, what will happen with Miguel Andujar? Do you see him more as trade bait, or is there a possible move to first base? -- Joe S., Port Jefferson, N.Y.The scenario that has been laid out most frequently is that Machado would play shortstop until

If the Yankees sign Manny Machado, what will happen with Miguel Andujar? Do you see him more as trade bait, or is there a possible move to first base?
-- Joe S., Port Jefferson, N.Y.

The scenario that has been laid out most frequently is that Machado would play shortstop until Didi Gregorius is ready to return from the disabled list, which could happen in June, July or August, according to general manager Brian Cashman. At that time, Machado would slide over to third base, which would in theory dislodge Andujar.
Let's split the difference and say that Gregorius is ready on July 1. That would, in theory, give the Yankees time to evaluate their needs prior to the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. What is the health of their rotation at that time, particularly with James Paxton, Carsten Sabathia or Masahiro Tanaka? None of us know, but if there is a need, Andujar could fill it via trade. He could also serve as a DH if Giancarlo Stanton is hurt or something else presses Stanton into regular outfield duty.
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There have been reports that suggest some in the Yankees' hierarchy are eager to trade Andujar. I don't believe that to be the case; this is not a Sonny Gray situation. In fact, Andujar wasn't even internally projected to be a big league regular until 2019, so he's ahead of the curve. It seems more likely that they are open to considering anything, and that Andujar is not among their untouchables (though Gleyber Torres, for example, is).
As for first base, there was a plan that would have had Andujar play 20 percent of his games there last year for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, spending the rest of his time at the hot corner. That was, of course, before he grabbed Brandon Drury's job. With the Yankees planning to spend much of the spring focused on Andujar's footwork and positioning, it's likely they'll allow him to focus on third base rather than add a new position to his plate.
The Yankees need a left-handed power bat. Bryce Harper should be a top priority. Any chance the Yanks sign Harper?
-- David P., New York

I should have learned my lesson with the Stanton trade, which I didn't think had any chance of being completed. Yet here we are a year later, and I'm buying the Yanks' stance that there is no room at the inn for Harper. While your point about the Yanks needing left-handed balance is valid, the odds seem far greater of Machado wearing pinstripes than Harper.
In Las Vegas, when Cashman rattled off the six outfielders already on the roster, I raised the point that Harper represents a significant upgrade over several of those players. They know that, too. For what it's worth, Scott Boras pointed out that the Yankees seemed set at first base prior to the 2009 season, but Mark Teixeira proved irresistible. Could history repeat?
Could the Yankees bring in Freddy Galvis to play shortstop? It would be a great defensive upgrade while Didi is out and would help the youngsters.
-- Manuel H., Mexicali, Mexico

The Yankees were in touch with Galvis during the Winter Meetings, and the switch-hitter makes sense because of his versatility. Though Galvis has played most of his career at shortstop, he also played second base, third base, left field and center field this past year for the Padres.
The 29-year-old won't approach Gregorius' offense, having compiled a .248/.299/.380 slash line last season that was in line with his career norms, but he's a useful piece with a little pop. Galvis has also played in 162 games in each of the past two seasons, something no Yankees have done since Hideki Matsui and Alex Rodriguez in 2005.
Machado is better than Andujar right now, but is he really $29.5 million a year better?
-- Robb B., Edison, N.J.

This will open a debate, but we can do a quick and dirty calculation if you don't mind using WAR. Baseball people generally will say that 1 WAR is approximately worth $8 million in free agency, and Machado is coming off a 6.2 WAR (FanGraphs) season with the Orioles and Dodgers. If you buy that, then Machado's 2018 should have been worth approximately $49.6 million. At 2.7 WAR (FanGraphs), Andujar gave the Yankees incredible value; that's $21.6 million of production for close to the league minimum salary. But there's still a $28 million difference between their stat lines.
Machado makes visit to the Bronx
What advantage was there to Cashman announcing Sonny Gray needs to be traded? Now the prospective trade partners' position will be to offer less, as the Yanks want to be rid of him.
-- Tony B., Bluffton, S.C.

Cashman first made that proclamation in the wake of the ouster in the American League Division Series, and I would speculate that he might have over-shared. He has been candid about his desire to move Gray, saying that he is "not going to be Sisyphus, pushing the rock up a hill and having it roll back on top of me," but the fact that Gray remains on the roster indicates that the Yankees aren't looking to move him without a decent return.
During the Winter Meetings, Cashman said that 11 teams expressed interest in Gray, and a select few of those remain in the mix -- some offering big league talent, others showcasing packages of prospects. As starting pitchers continue to fall off the board, Gray's value could actually increase.
Is Greg Bird no longer a first-base option? Will a strong spring help in any way at all?
-- Daniel W., Fort Wayne, Ind.

Bird is in the position of needing to prove that his disappointing 2018 was a fluke and that he can be counted on as a healthy performer, but Luke Voit's terrific conclusion to the season has earned him first crack. It is Voit's job to lose, but there are many in the hierarchy who still think highly of Bird and would like to see him succeed.
What is going on behind the scenes with Clint Frazier? With a crowded outfield, it seems like there isn't room for him again this year. Obviously his health is an issue as well. Could he be traded?
-- T.J. H., Bismarck, N.D.

Frazier is one of many Yankees who have been asked about in trade talks -- in fact, Cashman said that Aaron Judge and Stanton are the only two he has not received hits on. Frazier has resumed hitting and throwing, and is expected to be ready to go during Spring Training. He understands that there is ground to make up, and on paper there doesn't appear to be much room for playing time, but I would point out that Shane Robinson somehow appeared in 25 games for the 2018 Yanks. It can happen.
Has Jacoby Ellsbury ever given any sign of waiving his no-trade clause?
-- Jack K., Portland, Ore.

As far as we know, he has not been asked, which indicates that the Yankees have never been close enough to a workable trade to do so. There was some chatter this winter with the Mariners looking to move Robinson Cano's mega-contract, which Cashman called "money laundering." Cano obviously went to the Mets, but as an Oregon native, Seattle might have been attractive enough for Ellsbury to consider giving his OK.

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook.