In 2018, young Yankees were taking over AL Rookie of the Year ballots. New York’s third baseman Miguel Andújar and shortstop Gleyber Torres finished second and third respectively in rookie of the year voting, losing out to Angels’ two-way phenom Shohei Ohtani.
Ohtani smacked 22 home runs and posted a .925 OPS during his rookie campaign all while recording a 3.31 ERA as well. Yet, somehow, Andújar still received five first-place votes. There were five voters who believed Andújar had a better rookie season than Ohtani, and that just goes to show how highly touted Andújar was. While he certainly wasn’t an elite fielder by any metric, he drove in 92 runs for a playoff squad and was a big reason they got to the postseason in the first place. There were obviously some flaws in his swing, but nothing that couldn’t be worked on. Therefore, it stood to reason that Andújar would only improve as his career progressed.
Fast-forward four years, and Andújar has appeared in only 90 games, stepped up to the plate only 319 times, and has recorded a 62 OPS-plus. He’s barely had an opportunity to play. Injuries derailed his 2019 season. He couldn’t recover from that torn labrum in time to be productive in 2020, and in 2021, his swing further regressed pushing Andújar further into Yankees’ obscurity, relegating the once promising star to a footnote in baseball history. Now, in 2022, after making only 12 appearances in pinstripes, Andújar has officially asked for a trade. Why? Lack of opportunity, of course.
But does Andújar even deserve consistent playing opportunity at this point? The man has a 3.8 walk percentage since the end of 2018. I feel like I shouldn’t have to note how abysmal that percentage is. In fact, since the start of the 2019 season, that is the 11th-worst percentage of anyone with at least 300 plate appearances. While people like Tim Anderson and Salvador Perez can make up for that lack of plate discipline with power, Andújar can’t. Of everyone in that three-plus year span with a walk rate of less than 5 percent, Andújar has the fourth-lowest isolated power percentage (.095) — also known as ISO — ranking ahead of only Erik González (.084), Dee Strange-Gordon (.070), and Nick Madrigal (.077). However, at least those guys are either solid contact hitters, half-decent fielders, or are in the twilight of their careers. Andújar, 27, doesn’t have any of those excuses. He’s just not good anymore.
So, would any team be willing to trade away a half-decent prospect for Andújar? Probably not. The Chicago White Sox have endured some pretty awful play at third base this year. Their third basemen have recorded a -1.2 rWAR this season, worst in MLB. However, I would still trust Yoán Moncada or Jake Burger more than Andújar at this point. The Washington Nationals’ third basemen have recorded the second-worst rWAR this year (-1.1), and they could actually use Andújar as a depth piece, because as cool as Lucius Fox’s name is, he hasn’t shown anything at the Major League level. Without Fox, Maikel Franco is the only player on that roster who can actually play third base, and he hasn’t been that great either. That being said, why would the Nats be willing to trade a prospect away for a depth piece instead of just giving Fox more playing time to see if he can figure out what’s been ailing him at the plate? It’s not like the Nationals are going to contend for the playoffs this year, especially if they trade Juan Soto away (I know Matt Rizzo shut down those rumors, but I still wouldn’t rule out that possibility). Trading FOR anything other than high-end prospects just isn’t on the table. Unless they can get rid of Patrick Corbin’s contract, that’d be the exception.
Miguel Andújar is a cautionary tale of someone with so much promise who flamed out quicker than a grease fire at a department store that exclusively sells lids. I’m sure the Yankees would love to trade him, but he’s making over a million dollars to be a detriment at the plate and on the field. Good luck finding someone willing to either pay that contract, or give up anything more than some warm gummy bears for him.
I used to really like Andújar. I thought he and Torres were a fun pair to watch on the left side of the Yankees’ infield in 2018, but as the years have gone by, he’s become nothing more than a name to mention while you casually shout out random athletes with your friends at the bar. I hope he gets traded. I hope he finds a place where he can get consistent playing time, but I wouldn’t bet on it.