Tuesday, December 11, 2018

On Trading Miguel Andujar

Rumors rule the off season and as the market heats up, they are swirling in gusty winds. Of course, rumors are just rumors until they are not. But they do get clicks don't they? The latest gust has the Yankees, Mets and Marlins involved in a three-team swap as the Mets desperately want to get J.T. Realmuto from the Marlins and the Yankees would love get a big-time pitcher and Derek Jeter wants a Major League player. The name swirling for the Yankees is Miguel Andujar.  Another piece stated that the Yankees were willing to listen to talks concerning Andujar.

Granted, we are just talking rumors here. And granted, the Yankees need pitching as we have seen time and time again that pitching wins the post season. But if there is any kernel of truth to these rumors, why Miguel Andujar? Is it his defense? Or that he does not walk enough? Or is the truth closer to the fact that the Yankees really want to sign Manny Machado? Or is it all three?

If the Yankees were to trade Andujar, they better have Machado all but locked up because Miguel Andujar was the rock of the Yankees' offense in 2018. He was consistently a presence in the lineup from when he arrived to when the season ended. He did flop in the playoffs, but so did a lot of Yankees. As good as Andujar was in the first half of the season, he was better in the second. There is no way the Yankees would have won a hundred games without him.

There is also a pretty good comparable to Miguel Andujar. His name is Robinson Cano. Remember him? He is a Met now. But Robinson Cano had stellar years with the Yankees. Yes, he was a bit of Machado without the mean streak, but he was really, really good.

Cano started a year younger than Andujar. But let's compare their first full season in the big leagues:

  • OPS - Andujar: .855, Cano: .778
  • OPS+ - Andujar: 126, Cano: .106
  • rWAR - Andujar: 2.2, Cano: 0.8
  • dWAR - Andujar: -2.2, Cano: -1.8

Maybe those comparisons are not fair to Cano because he was a year younger. Cano blossomed in his second year. Let's compare Andujar's first year to Cano's second:

  • OPS - Andujar: .855, Cano: .890
  • OPS+ - Andujar: 126, Cano: 126
  • rWAR - Andujar: 2.2, Cano: 3.2
  • dWAR - Andujar: -2.2, Cano: -0.1

At least they are in the ballpark. But again, that was Cano's second full season. Andujar is faulted for his swing at everything approach. He walked only 28 times. Cano only walked 18 times in both his first and second seasons. Cano was able to build his walk rate to the 50-60 range mid-career. There is no reason to think that Andujar could not do the same.

Let's talk about Miguel Andujar's defense. It would be foolish to think that Miguel Andujar could become as good a defender as Robinson Cano became. Cano has better instincts and range. But, by all means, Andujar could get much better than he was in 2018. For one, make the guy play on the front of the dirt so that he does not lose runners being so deep. Work with him on not backpedaling on everything. If he could approach league average, he would be a superstar for years to come.

As good as Robinson Cano has been as an offensive player, Andujar can be better. He was a better hitter in the minors and he started with a bang in his rookie season. He seems like a Roberto Clemente-type offensive talent with more power. Other than his low walk total, there is nothing not to like about him offensively. He is going to be a batting star in the Majors for a long while. That's a hunch, of course and time will tell.

There is another strange thing about this rumor: Why would the Mets trade one of the team's star pitchers if pitching and Realmuto is the team's only shot of post season glory? It does not seem to make sense for them to do so.

Perhaps serving Andujar up for a trade will help the Yankees in the near future. But consider that Chase Headley, a veteran, only had a higher rWAR once while with the Yankees than Andujar's 2.2 tally. And that 2.2 tally was the exact same as the 2012 Alex Rodriguez who cost a heck of a lot more money. The bottom line is that losing Miguel Andujar will hurt and we will see him in the All Star game for years to come...playing for somebody else.

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