Losing Miguel Andujar is a significant blow to the Yankees, but the team can still make the World Series in 2019 due to their organizational depth.
Most Yankees fans saw it coming a mile away, but Wednesday’s revelation that Miguel Andujar will miss the rest of the 2019 season due to his torn labrum still stung. Fortunately, Brian Cashman and the team’s front office have constructed a roster that’s very capable of playing well without their talented third baseman.
The Yankees didn’t mince any words when tweeting about Andujar’s short-term prognosis. They directly told fans that he “is not expected to return this season.” The team has suffered a ton of injuries already this year, but Andujar is the first player who’s not expected to return before the 2020 campaign begins.
The obvious question to answer now is what the Yankees might do to rebound from this injury news. The good news is that the team already has a good player who appears to be ready to serve as Andujar’s immediate replacement.
Gio Urshela has been a revelation for manager Aaron Boone this season. He’s hitting a scorching .341 in his 91 at-bats on the young season. The 27-year-old doesn’t have the same penchant for extra base hits that made Andujar so valuable last season, but he’s already shown he can get on base at a really healthy clip.
Urshela’s defensive abilities also give him an edge over a healthy Andujar. He’s not going to remind anyone of Brooks Robinson over at the hot corner, but his range is significantly better than anything Andujar gave his pitching staff last season. He’s also more reliable to make the easy plays at third base. Urshela isn’t going to win a Gold Glove, but he’s a significant step up over Andujar’s shaky glove work.
If Urshela starts to cool off the Yankees could easily turn to DJ LeMahieu to pick up at-bats at third base. He is another player off to a great start this season. Most of his playing time as come in the middle of the infield this year but that doesn’t change the fact that he’s hitting .333 with 21 RBIs in 135 at-bats. His slick fielding would also be a significant improvement over Andujar.
The real key to dealing with Andujar’s absence will be getting Didi Gregorius back on the diamond as soon as possible. If he can return and capably man the shortstop position on a daily basis it will give Boone a lot of options to work with in the infield. Ideally, he can toggle back and forth between Urshela and LeMahieu depending on who’s swinging the hot bat.
The Yankees might make a minor move to strengthen their options in the infield, but don’t look for a big name third baseman to come to the Bronx. Cashman and his front office have carefully constructed an organization that’s capable of handling this type of injury. Losing Andujar for the season is far from ideal, but it’s also far from fatal to the team’s World Series aspirations.