Barring any crazy developments, the Yankees appear prepared to head into the 2019 season with Miguel Andújar as their starting third baseman. That is, unless, the Yankees continue their construction of the Colorado Rockies East with an acquisition of Nolan Arenado.
Andy Martino at SNY has reported the Yankees have had internal discussions about trading for the All-Star either before or during the 2019 season. Arenado is set to be a free agent after this season, though the Yankees would likely only trade for him if they are able to negotiate an extension.
“Meanwhile, people briefed on the Yankees thinking say that GM Brian Cashman — who did not respond to a request for comment — has internally discussed the possibility of trying to trade for Arenado either now or during the season. One source said that the teams have likely talked already, but neither Cashman nor Rockies GM Jeff Bridich have confirmed this.”Andy Martino, SNY
I would start by cautioning that “internal discussions” are the very preliminary stages of any acquisition process. Brain Cashman’s job is to focus on improving the team at all times, and it does not take much analysis to see Arenado would be an improvement to the 2019 New York Yankees.
I find this leak interesting for two reasons: it gives more substance to the idea they could pass on Manny Machado this offseason, and it gives credence to the idea that Andújar deserves another chance to prove himself in the big leagues.
Plan A for the Yankees in 2018 consisted of Brandon Drury controlling third base while Andújar attempted to get rid of some rough edges with one last season in the minors. We all know that didn’t work out because of Drury’s migraine problem, and it allowed Andújar’s incredible skill and tantalizing potential to be on display a year earlier than the Yankees had intended.
His bat lead him to finish second in voting for American League rookie of the year, while his glove guided him to a league-worst -25 defensive runs saved amongst qualified third baseman.
Arenado, on the other hand, put up slightly superior offense of numbers (132 wRC+ to Andújar’s 128) but was worth three wins more per Fangraphs WAR because of his defense, which ranked fifth best among third basemen. The appeal to signing/trading for a talent like this is obvious.
But, I think it’s irresponsible to assume Andújar is a finished product at the age of 23. He has shown his work ethic on Instagram, posting a lot of videos of his time spent at the Yankees complex in the Dominican Republic to improve his defense.
“What we’re focusing on right now is his pre-pitch setup. We’re trying to put him in the best position so he can react at contact. Making sure that he finds a spot where he’s comfortable on his setup so he can have a better first step, a better read on the ball to create better angles. It starts with his setup and his ready position.”Carlos Mendoza, Yankees infield instructor via Erik Boland
Andújar deserves the benefit of the doubt and should get another chance to show what he can do at the hot corner. But that shouldn’t preclude the Yankees for having interest and other players like Arenado or Machado. Those who would make the team better regardless, and it would be foolish for the team NOT to show interest in some of the game’s best players.
As the season plays out, it will become clear whether the Yankees think Andújar is a franchise cornerstone or just a placeholder.