As the quest to find a long term third baseman continues, could the Texas Rangers look to Miguel Andujar of the Yankees as a trade option?
It seems the Texas Rangers will indeed close out the 2019 year without a new addition at third base for next season. What entered the offseason as top priority still remains an issue and with Anthony Rendon off the board and Josh Donaldson apparently no longer an option, choices to fill the hot corner in 2020 seem slim. The possibility of a trade for Nolan Arenado has been thrown about, but even on the most rumor filled day, that still feels like a massive long shot. Kris Bryant doesn’t seem to fit the club’s timeline either. So where can Texas turn? Perhaps Jon Daniels and the rest of the organization can take a chance on Miguel Andujar of the New York Yankees, a player they’ve been connected to in the past.
Andujar doesn’t quite fit the mold of the aforementioned Rendon, Donaldson, Arenado or Bryant as he’s not an established star. But he still has tons of talent, especially with his bat. TR Sullivan who covers the club for MLB.com noted back at the beginning of December that the Rangers “are definitely intrigued by the possibility of trading for Yankees third baseman Miguel Andújar.” The use of the word intrigued is well, intriguing, because that could mean a lot of things. But we can assume that the idea of Andujar in Arlington has at least been considered by the Rangers’ brass.
The 24-year old was the 2018 AL Rookie of the Year following a stellar breakout season in which he played 149 games for the “Evil Empire” hitting .297 with 27 home runs and an .855 OPS. He cruised to a 130 wRC+ and a 2.8 fWAR setting high expectations for his follow up season. However, injuries kept him off the field for all but 12 games last season and effectively cost him his shot to lock up third base in New York long term. Gio Urshela emerged as a potential star for the Yankees last season hitting .314 with 21 home runs an .889 OPS. He had a 3.1 fWAR and has earned the confidence to be the starting third baseman for New York next season.
That led to the idea that Andujar could find himself on the move. His bat still has the ability to be a big plus which will attract the attention of a number of suitors. However, for a club like Texas, who is in the market for somebody who can play third, questions will be raised about his defensive ability. In 2018, which provides us with the only real sample, he was poor defensively posting a -24.5 UZR/150 and posting below average defensive metrics all around.
As a prospect coming up, every scouting report noted his big time arm which garnered a 70 rating from MLB Prospect Watch in 2017 and maintains a 70 rating to date on FanGraphs. But his glove and reactions have yet to catch up which raises concerns about long term fit. If the Rangers were looking for a bonafide star at third base coming next season, Andujar likely wouldn’t be the route. However, if they want to reevaluate and find somebody who could develop into a star, acquiring the young slugger could be a good move. It’d be a risk. His bat is good but not a guarantee. And defensively he could find himself shuffled to a corner outfield spot or relegated to DH duties. But with the market the way it is right now, perhaps adding Andujar and then an impact player in another position would be the smartest way to improve before Opening Day.