by Ray Kuhn
A salary dump, there is no other way to describe the deal that sent Chase Headley and Brian Mitchell from New York to San Diego in exchange for Jabari Blash. What we aren’t used to is that it is the Yankees who are the ones doing the dumping. While Mitchell could be a deep sleeper in the back end of San Diego’s rotation, the true fantasy impact takes us back to the Bronx.
With the Yankees attempting to remain under the $197 million luxury tax threshold, even after acquiring Giancarlo Stanton, they had to shed salary. The move have left potential voids at both 2B and 3B. Gleyber Torres could fill one of the spots, but he Ahas to complete his recovery and make up from lost time from his Tommy John surgery last summer. That leaves Miguel Andujar with the potential to stake his claim at 3B (especially now that Todd Frazier has signed with the Mets).
Following last season, regardless of the Headley trade, Andujar was beginning to knock on the door (he had eight plate appearances last summer) and was going to force the Yankees to take a closer look. For now it appears, they don’t have a choice, and that isn’t exactly a problem.
By opening day Andujar will be 23 years old, and he is coming of the best season of his professional career. He split the year between Double-A and Triple-A, and in 480 AB hit .315 with 16 HR and 82 RBI while striking out 72 times. While he has always been a solid hitter, .274 career average in 2,271 career AB, it was a welcome development to see some real power production. Including last season the third baseman has just 51 HR and 336 RBI in his career, but he is young enough for this not to be a concern. It was also a good sign that as his home runs increased his strikeouts didn’t follow suit.
For a prospect who was signed as a teenager, the growth progression (especially when it comes to power) is going to take time. The good news is that Andujar has risen through the Yankees’ system as expected, and his bat has proven to be an asset. Last season brought a big change in regards to his line drive rate, and to me that was the last step he had to take in order to become a legitimate prospect.
In 2016 Andujar’s line drive rate was 18.5%, and that was in line with what we had been seeing from him up to that point. Last year he brought that up to 25.2% in Double-A and 22.5% in Triple-A, and the result was the best offensive season of his career. The line drives came the expense of fly balls, but it was clear that he was putting a better, more consistent swing on the ball as he registered a .185 ISO.
Even if he starts the season as the Opening Day third baseman for the Yankees, and it is possible, there will be minimal pressure on Andujar as he will be batting at the bottom of a stacked lineup. At this point there is nothing more for him to do in the minor leagues, and in his seven major league at bats Andujar has two doubles and two singles. At this point in the off-season he should be on your list for late round selections.
Make sure to check out all of our 2018 Preseason Top 10 Prospect Lists:
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