To new beginnings for a former top prospect in the New York Yankees system finding a new home.
Third baseman/outfielder Miguel Andújar was designated for assignment by New York on Thursday and claimed off waivers Sunday night by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Andújar, once a candidate in rumored trade packages involving the Yankees and outfielder Bryan Reynolds, enters the Pirates organization with a clean slate and the lack of lofty expectations associated with being dealt for a star player.
Andújar joins right-handed pitchers Roansy Contreras and Miguel Yajure, lefty bullpen arm Manny Banuelos, and utility players Hoy Park and Diego Castillo as just a few of the current Buccos who spent time in the Minors and Majors as a Yankee.
A 27-year-old right-handed batter, Andújar was a lightning rod for the Yankees' offense in 2018, one year after being promoted for his Major League debut in 2017.
In just over 600 plate appearances spanning 149 games, Andújar registered 47 doubles, 27 home runs, 92 RBI and was runner-up in 2017 Rookie of the Year voting, finishing second to one of the game’s all-time talents in Shohei Ohtani.
A .297/.328/.527 slash line contributed to a 130 OPS+ and 2.9 WAR in his age-23 season.
A torn labrum plagued Andújar the following year, limiting him to only 12 games and a .128 batting average.
Andújar never bounced back and found himself lost in the shuffle of Yankees fighting for playing time. The Cristobal, Dominican Republic native has only played in 105 games since his breakout campaign, playing third base, left field, first base, and batting as the designated hitter.
In 2022, Andújar slashed .229/.250/.281 in limited playing time with one home run, eight runs batted in, and a career-high four steals.
Getting a chance to play every day again could rejuvenate a quieted bat poised to regain form. Andújar is arbitration-eligible for the next two seasons and is worth taking a flyer on.
Another player on the Pirates formally of the AL East comes to mind when assessing Andújar. Former Red Sox and current Pirates first baseman Michael Chavis hit 18 homers and 54 RBI in Boston during his age-23 season in 2019. One year after Andújar, Chavis struggled to regain form and only hit .212 following a .254 mark the year prior.
Chavis was traded to the Bucs at the 2021 deadline for reliever Austin Davis. Despite a declining batting average for most of the second half, he has made a positive impact on a young team going through learning curves.
Playing time and a lack of production factored more heavily into Andújar’s departure than Chavis, but his role may be similar or more advanced. Up until being DFA’d in roster moves to make room for Andújar, Chavis was an impactful member of the Bucs 2022 season and especially the first half.
Andújar did not hit the ball relatively hard in 2018 but found gaps and drove breaking pitches. His 47 doubles were tied for third in all of baseball with Mookie Betts and just below Eduardo Escobar (48) and Alex Bregman (51).
His .297 average was largely due to a .323 mark against breaking pitches coinciding with a .581 slugging percentage. Andújar is hit .285 and recorded 13 homers and 51 runs driven in while in Triple-A this past season.
Andújar is yet another waiver-wire pickup for a Pirates team scrapping players together and hoping a few can stick around long term. There is high upside with low risk, looking for the 2018-type of reward.