Pittsburgh Pirates: Debating a Potential Miguel Andujar Waiver Claim

Sep 8, 2022; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees designated hitter Miguel Andujar (41) reacts after a single during the fourth inning against the Minnesota Twins at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 8, 2022; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees designated hitter Miguel Andujar (41) reacts after a single during the fourth inning against the Minnesota Twins at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Pittsburgh Pirates should look into claiming Miguel Andujar, who was recently designated for assignment by the Yankees.

The New York Yankees recently designated a relatively big name player for assignment. That player is Miguel Andujar. Andujar was a former American League Rookie of the Year runner up, but injuries have derailed what looked like a promising start to a MLB career. But he’s healthy and now on waivers, so should the Pittsburgh Pirates look into claiming him?

Andujar was the runner up to Shohei Ohtani in 2018 Rookie Of The Year voting after finishing the year with a .297/.328/.527 slashline. On top of his great numbers, he hit for a fair amount of power. Andujar had 27 long balls along with 47 doubles, which is an American League rookie record, only tied with Fred Lynn in 1975. Despite a 4.1% walk rate, Andujar had just a 16% strikeout rate. He finished with a .361 wOBA and 129 wRC+ on the season.

There was some downside to his campaign, though. The first thing was his defense. Andujar’s -21 defensive runs saved is the lowest totals ever put up by a third baseman. Other defensive metrics painted him in a similar light with a -24.5 UZR/150 and -7 outs above average. Not only was his defense atrocious at third base, but he had a .322 expected weight on base average, or xwOBA.

Still, between his strong season at the plate, Andujar was projected to be a key cog in the Yankees’ line-up for years to come, even if he had to move off of third base. But injuries limited him to just 12 total games in 2019, and he’s failed to reach even the 50 game mark since his Rookie Of The Year bid. On top of being unhealthy, the Yankees found a diamond in the rough in Gio Urshela who served as their primary third baseman in 2019-2021, and then signed Josh Donaldson and Matt Carpenter this year.

But while he has been hurt in the past, he has been relatively healthy this year. He’s played 98 games this year between Triple-A and the major leagues. Before his DFA, Andujar was doing well at Triple-A, slashing .285/.330/.487 with a .354 wOBA, and 113 wRC+. He had a miniscule 11.8% strikeout rate throughout these 297 plate appearances as well.

Andujar has mostly moved off of third base, seeing most of his innings in left field. He’ll still take up the hot corner from time to time, but it’s no longer his primary position. If he were to move back to the infield dirt, he’d likely see time at first base. Afterall, that was an idea the Yankees had thrown aronund when Andujar was a rookie.

At this point, Andujar would definitley be a better platoon option at first base than what they have been using. Since DFA’ing Bligh Madris (who has since been claimed by the Tampa Bay Rays), the Bucs have paired Michael Chavis with Zack Collins. Collins has a career 80 wRC+ and a career .696 OPS against right-handed pitching. The only other options the Pirates have is Mason Martin or Aaron Shackelford, both of which are stationed at Triple-A. Although a right-handed batter, Andujar has better splits against right-handed pitching than he does against left-handed pitching. Career wise, he has a .285/.312/.465 line vs righties and .247/.284/.417 line against southpaws.

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Will Andujar ever reach the peak he had in 2018? Probably not, but is he a better utility option than the likes of Collins, Hoy Park, and would he be a better outfield option than Greg Allen? Likely so. There’s zero risk associated with claiming Andujar. Right now, I’d rather see Andujar take over left field than Allen, or share first base duties with Chavis over Collins, and I’m sure many other Pittsburgh Pirates fans share the same sentiment.

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