CLEVELAND — Miguel Andujar has learned a lot over the last three seasons. The one-time Rookie of the Year runner-up has learned different positions, including first base, and is now considered a solid major league outfielder. He has also learned about the business side of baseball, the numbers game that is keeping him in the minor leagues even though he could be contributing in the big leagues.
Andujar, back with the Yankees as the 27th man for the doubleheader against the Guardians at Progressive Field, was vague Saturday morning talking about his request for a trade.
“I enjoy playing baseball. I’ve been playing this game for a long time now,” Andujar said through Yankees interpreter Marlon Abreu. “I want to play at this level. The exact details of the conversation I want to keep private.”
Andujar’s actions speak pretty clearly that he could be contributing to a major league team right now. He’s slashing .316/.362/.485 with a .848 OPS in 45 games down at Triple-A. He has seven home runs, eight doubles and 27 RBI. He drew 12 walks and struck out 24 times.
“Yeah, it’s difficult, but at the same time, like I mentioned a moment ago, you gotta, you gotta keep doing your thing,” Andujar said of being stuck in Triple-A. “You gotta keep playing your game. You know, I know opportunities are gonna come so stay ready for those.”
The path to the majors seems blocked with the Yankees for Andujar, who finished behind Shohei Ohtani in the voting for the 2018 American League Rookie of the Year award. He lost his starting third base job when he suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in March 2019 and Gio Urshela came in and played so well. The infield is now overcrowded with the Yankees needing to rotate Josh Donaldson and DJ LeMahieu there.
So, the Yankees told Andujar to find other spots. He played first, but it hasn’t been a great fit. He has turned himself into a decent outfielder. But the Yankees already have a rotation there with Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Hicks and Joey Gallo. With the Bombers unwilling to admit that their trade for Gallo, who is slashing .165/.276/.330 with a .606 OPS and 85 strikeouts in 188 at-bats, was a bust, there is no room for Andujar.
Aaron Boone had described the conversation he had with Andujar at the beginning of last month, when he sent him back to Triple-A, as hard. The news leaked after Andujar had been optioned that his agent had contacted the Yankees and asked them to trade him.
The Yankees manager has been impressed with how Andujar handled the situation.
“Right away, I know he went down there and said ‘I’m gonna go out and get the bang,’ and he’s done that,” Boone said. “So, it’s not easy when you have to go back and you feel like you belong here. But to his credit, like I said, he’s got after it down there and earned this opportunity yet again.”
And this is an opportunity for the Yankees too.
Andujar was sought after by other teams in the winter of 2019, but the Yankees — not quite ready to believe Urshela’s year was real — held onto him as insurance. Now, with the Yankees looking to move Gallo, Andujar could be a chip in a trade at the end of the month. Letting teams get a glimpse of him in the big leagues, could generate some more interest.
One scout who watched Andujar in Triple-A last month said that Andujar impressed him with “solid,” at-bats and that teams “still see bat value,” in him.