A rumor surfaced last night that a three-team trade might be brewing between the Mets, Yankees, and Marlins. According to Ken Rosenthal, J.T. Realmuto would head to the Mets with Noah Syndergaard going to the Yankees. While Realmuto might not fill the Mets’ biggest need, the Marlins catcher is a really good player who would provide a sizable upgrade over the options they have on the roster. For the Yankees, getting another ace-level pitcher in Syndergaard would help them to continue building their rotation after missing out on Patrick Corbin. As for the Marlins, they are obviously looking to get younger as they try to rebuild for the future. The player who might be headed to Miami? That would be Miguel Andujar.
Name to watch with #Yankees: Miguel Andújar. Rival execs tell me and @ByRobertMurray NYY open to moving him. Would make sense as #Marlins’ ask for Realmuto; MIA wants established young MLB player as headliner. Also would line up with NYY pursuit of Machado. Torres could play SS.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 11, 2018
Andujar has tantalized scouts since early in his pro career with a strong, athletic frame and flashy tools that are above average to plus across the board. He was largely seen as potential, even passed over by all 30 teams in the Rule 5 Draft following the 2015 season. He broke out in a huge way in 2017, reaching a critical mass of adjustments and maturity that showed up in the counting stats.
Andujar has cut down on his swing-and-miss while also lifting the ball more and hitting it with more authority, an obviously rare and desirable combination when you’re already working with a toolsy prospect who was always young for his level.
Andujar lived up to that report last season, and as a batter, he was a top ten third basemen in baseball. With five seasons left of team control, Andujar is a young, cheap potential star. As to why the Yankees might move him, Andujar was very bad on defense last year, 16 runs below average on defense by UZR and -25 by DRS. He should probably not be playing third base. I asked Longenhagen what position Andujar should be playing, and he said he would move him to right field. Andujar has a great arm and above-average sprint speed, so a move to the outfield might showcase his skills better than the hot corner does, but the Yankees already have a full outfield. First base might waste Andujar’s arm and some of his issues in the field might not be alleviated by moving across the diamond. Trading Andujar to help the rotation would also free up a spot to potentially sign Manny Machado.
Putting Andujar in right field limits his ceiling, as an average third baseman with his batting line last season would have been a 4-plus win player. Even slightly below average defense in right field would put Andujar in the three-win range, meaning the bat would need to take another step forward to compensate. That step forward is a possibility for a player who is just 23 years old, especially if he improves his walk rate a little and his strikeouts come down closer to his minor league numbers. That’s still an All-Star level player in right field. Even if the Yankees are making Andujar available, it shouldn’t be seen a huge slight to Andujar. He’s a good player now, and has the potential to be better.
Craig Edwards can be found on twitter @craigjedwards.