Miguel Andujar has a blueprint to survive his Yankees low point: Sherman
He had lost ground due to injury. He was blocked by better players. He had minor league options. His team believed in him and would not just trade him at a low-value point to provide opportunity elsewhere.
This is Miguel Andujar’s story. What Andujar should recognize is that it also was Clint Frazier’s. And one reason Andujar is frustratingly back at the Yankees’ alternate camp is that Frazier has turned his latest opportunity into full-time big league employment.
Andujar’s representative, Ulises Cabrera, lamented to The Athletic that Andujar was sent down when the latest wave of previously injured Yankees returned to the active roster. It came with Andujar finally hitting well over the first two weeks of September. So the exasperation is understandable. Heck, Brian Cashamn understood it, saying he had “empathy” for Andujar.
But if you were the Yankees GM rather than someone getting commission from Andujar what would you do?
You wouldn’t play Andujar at third base over Gio Urshela or even DJ LeMahieu because of the defensive component. The starting corner outfielders are Frazier and Aaron Judge. Brett Gardner and Mike Tauchman bring lefty bats, superior defense and speed to the role of reserve outfielders. Luke Voit is entrenched at first. Giancarlo Stanton is the DH, and on days he is not the Yankees will probably want to keep the bats of Judge and Gleyber Torres in the lineup while they protect their legs from playing the field every day. Tyler Wade is the only backup shortstop on the roster at a time when Torres has an iffy quad.
Andujar has not shown he will hit well when only given sporadic at-bats. Plus, he has no defensive upside and average speed. So if you drew a paycheck from the Yankees and not commission from Andujar, what would you do?
“It’s nothing new,” Cashman told The Post. “The club has more than one quality player at the positions (Anduar plays) and you can’t play them all, so we wound up having to send a major league player down — there is no disagreement there, we think he is a major league player. Those are the circumstances and I acknowledge it is not the best.”
Cabrera did not respond to a text, but in The Athletic article the agent also alludes to the potential for service-time manipulation. Andujar will not accrue the days needed to reach three years of service and, thus, become a free agent after the 2022 season (now the earliest is after 2023). Yet, I don’t think this was about service manipulation. Not because the Yankees are above that. After all, you might notice that the Yanks did enough that J.A. Happ is in line for nine starts this year when 10 could have triggered his $17 million option for 2021.
Andujar was on the Opening Day roster. Had he hit in his hybrid role and shown himself capable at third and left, he not only would have stayed, his at-bats would have grown. But he opened 1-for-14 and was demoted on Aug. 6 when rosters were reduced from 30 to 28 for the same reasons that he was demoted this week — the Yankees had better choices.
Five days later Frazier was recalled for the first time this season when Stanton joined Judge on the IL. When Cashman demoted Frazier in Washington, D.C. just before the season began he told the outfielder he knew Frazier was upset, but that there was limited roster size and better options available and to go down and be ready.
Frazier did that, returning to seize the full-time job he has craved by hitting .303 with a 1.017 OPS. Much has been made about his maturity on defense and in Zoom interviews and, yes and yes. But Frazier is a hitter first. And that he has stopped trying to hit a six-run homer in each at-bat to prove he belongs is the key to his maturity. He is accepting walks and letting others attempt to produce when pitchers don’t throw him strikes and doing immense damage when they do. The at-bats emphasize not just his terrific bat speed, but much better command of the moment.
Andjuar should pay heed. More opportunities will come, if not in 2020 than 2021. The Yanks refused to trade Frazier at a low value and my suspicion is they will hold Andjuar too unless the right deal manifests. Cashman continues to say they love the player who nearly won the 2018 AL Rookie of the Year and the person, and that he does not even mind an agent expressing public frustration.
“I am doing what I have to do and Ulisses is doing what he has to do for his client,” Cashman said. “We are all in our role. Now, the only role Andujar can play is to be ready when needed.”
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