Miguel Andujar burst onto the scene for the Yankees in 2018. The 23-year-old slugger tore through American League pitching, pounding out 76 extra base hits (27 of which were homers) and leading the Yankees in hitting with a .297 average. Andujar was particularly valuable after Aaron Judge went down, when he helped anchor a depleted lineup and went virtually the whole summer without slumping. He finished second in rookie of the year voting (like Hideki Matsui and Gary Sanchez, he probably should’ve won) and has an extremely bright future being that he is already a dominant hitter at such a young age.
Despite his immediate success and seemingly limitless potential, now is the time to trade Miguel Andujar. The most obvious reason to trade him is because of defense. Andujar’s fielding last year was abysmal. Per Baseball Reference, his -25 DRS was by far the worst among major league third basemen. He struggled at virtually every aspect of defense, he has limited range, an erratic throwing arm, and suffered through concentration lapses at the position.
A common rallying cry among supporters is that he is young, and his defense is bound to improve as he gets older. While I acknowledge that he can improve on his throwing through practice and repetition, it will be extremely difficult to improve on range. Range, like speed, is essentially a God given asset. While training and conditioning can help, it isn’t very likely that Andujar’s awful range will magically improve as he ages. (In fact, it will probably just get worse.)
Another reason to trade Andujar is a certain free agent that just visited with the Yankees- Manny Machado. Machado is 26-years-old, and he had a better offensive season than Andujar last year. For his career, Machado averages 31 homers and 90 RBI a year. He has a career slash line of .282/.335/.487. In addition to his offensive dominance, he is the best defensive third basemen in all of baseball. Even if Andujar improves on his defense somewhat, he will never be as dominant a player as Manny Machado.
Although Machado played shortstop this past season, multiple reports have suggested that he would switch back to third base if presented with the right opportunity. He can also fill in at shortstop as needed while Didi Gregorius recovers from Tommy John surgery. For reference, Machado had a 5.7 WAR last season, while Andujar came in at 2.2. Replacing Andujar with Machado would project to add about three and a half wins to the 2019 season.
Trading Andujar would also help the rotation. Despite being improved from last year, the rotation still has question marks. James Paxton has been consistently injured pretty much every year of his career. Luis Severino had an abysmal second half. Masahiro Tanaka has a partially torn UCL. CC Sabathia essentially has no cartilage left in his right knee and will be 39-years-old in July. The Yankees could package Andujar with a few prospects to land a stud pitcher – think Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer, Madison Bumgarner or Noah Syndergaard – and replace him with Machado. With most of the prime free agent pitchers off the board, trading Andujar is the quickest way to add a stud arm to the rotation.
With Gregorius out until at least July, the Yankees infield defense looks shaky at best at the moment. Trading Andujar and signing Machado would improve the infield defense and the pitching staff immensely, and easily would make the Yankees World Series favorites next year.