The Pittsburgh Pirates claimed Miguel Andujar in the last weeks of September, but what role could he play in 2023?
Miguel Andújar was a surprise waiver claim by the Pittsburgh Pirates late into the 2022 season. The Yankees had designated the former American League Rookie Of The Year candidate for assignment, and the Pirates decided to take a chance on him. Andujar looked decent in his brief look with the Pirates, so what role could he undertake with his new organization?
While Andújar was a third baseman throughout his time with the Yankees, his days at the hot corner are likely over, aside from emergency duty. In 2018 when Andújar was given the starting reins at third base for the Yankees, he had a terrible season with the leather. His -21 defensive runs saved was the third-worst single-season mark since the statistic was created. His -24.5 UZR/150 was also the third worst in history, and he also had -7 Outs Above Average.
Andújar struggled so much at third base the Yankees moved him to left field in just his sophomore season, despite posting an outstanding 129 wRC+ as a rookie. Although he hasn’t completely abandoned his days at third base, logging 162 innings there this season, the Pirates aren’t moving Ke’Bryan Hayes off of the position, and no team, no matter how good or bad, would play Andújar there.
Andújar is an option in left field for the Pittsburgh Pirates. The team’s current left field options include Jack Suwinski, Cal Mitchell, Ji-Hwan Bae, Tucupita Marcano, and Canaan Smith-Njigba. Marcano is more in line for playing time at second base than left field, and Suwinski will likely see more time in right field than left field. Since Mitchell ended the season on a positive note, posting a 112 wRC+ throughout September, he could be atop the depth chart for left field.
But at designated hitter? Andujar could have the position all to himself, at least to start the year. Rodolfo Castro may eventually be moved to DH once Nick Gonzales makes his way to the major leagues, the Pirates other DH options consist of Mitchell and Smith-Njigba. Mitchell and Bae could be in competition for the starting left field position, and Smith-Njigba will likely start the year at Triple-A to get back up to speed after missing a good chunk of 2022 due to a fractured wrist.
Andújar will have a chance to prove himself once again. It’s been nearly five seasons since he was given a regular shot at playing time, but the Pittsburgh Pirates have an opportunity to let him take up playing time at DH. He may see some time in left field, but most of his plate appearances should come as a designated hitter.