The Pirates claimed Miguel Andujar off waivers, as announced by the Yankees via Twitter. New York designated Andujar for assignment earlier this week.
The move officially ends Andujar’s 11-year tenure in the Yankees organization, the last few of which have been marked by trade rumors and a sense that the Yankees had moved on from Andujar as an important piece of their present and future lineups. An injury-marred 2019 season for Andujar opened the door for Gio Urshela to take over at third base, and Andujar never again received any consistent big league playing time.
Heading into that 2019 season, Andujar looked like the latest of the “Baby Bombers” to make an immediate impact in New York’s lineup. Andujar hit .297/.328/.527 with 27 home runs over 606 plate appearances in 2018, finishing second (behind Shohei Ohtani) in AL Rookie Of the Year balloting. Though there was already some question as to whether or not Andujar’s defensive shortcomings would eventually force a move from third base, there seemed little question that his bat could play in the majors.
Since that breakout rookie year, Andujar has played only 105 MLB games over the 2019-22 seasons. A torn right labrum sidelined him for all but 12 games in 2019, and though the Yankees experimented with using Andujar as a first baseman and left fielder, he still couldn’t find his way back to a regular spot in the lineup. With Andujar out of favor, the Yankees explored trades and Andujar even renewed his request for a trade earlier this season, but the end result was New York getting no return, as Andujar departed on waivers.
Andujar is still only 27 years old and has two years of arbitration control remaining, and so for the rebuilding Pirates, there isn’t much risk in taking a look at him as a possible piece for 2023. With only a .229/.250/.281 slash line over 100 PA for New York this season, Andujar has remained potent at the Triple-A level, hitting .285/.330/.487 with 13 homers over 297 PA with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
It remains to be seen whether or not Andujar can become more than a “Quad-A” type of player, but a change of scenery seemed long overdue. He’ll now join Robert Stephenson, Michael Chavis, Zack Collins, and other former top prospects or highly-touted minor leaguers who are looking for fresh starts in Pittsburgh, as the Bucs continue to look for some late bloomers to add their collection of in-house prospects. Looking ahead to 2023, Andujar could be a factor at first base, as Chavis has posted subpar offensive numbers.