Gio Urshela and the Yankees reportedly agreed to a one-year contract of $2.475 million on Friday which was the deadline for arbitration eligible players. For Urshela, with that breakout year in 2019, and unexpected as the unknown player, a well deserved deal.
So the Yankees will go into spring training with an interesting situation. Urshela provided that unexpected production in the lineup who became a highlight reel at third base.
Miguel Andujar, recall, a Yankees “Baby Bomber” came up short in 2018 for AL Rookie Of The Year honors but a season ending injury to his shoulder gave, Urshela the opportunity in 2019.
The Yankees got a pleasant surprise from Ursehla, the 28-year old and part time player acquired from the Cleveland Indians. He Completed the season batting .314 in 132 games, 21 home runs, and 74 RBI in 132 games.
All good of course. Urshela was one of the sparks for a Yankees roster that sustained numerous injuries and he filled the void under a contract that paid him a Major League minimum salary of $555.000.
GM Brian Cashman has assured, Andujar is not out of the picture. In other words, and assuming Andujar is healthy, he will be in the mix at third base but it will be his job to win. This is certain to be a storyline going into spring training and something that will transpire.
Andujar, from reports out of the Dominican Republic, has resumed throwing and fielding. He has reportedly recovered from surgery to his right shoulder. The 24-year old appeared in 12 games last season.
While Andujar has to prove that this will be a comeback, and time will tell, the Yankees also have options. They have that flexibility to pull off a trade, even though, Andujar, and his value has diminished on the market due to the inactivity.
Regardless, of the trade talk and speculation, Miguel Andujar remains in the plan. The value of Urshela is also significant and he could be used as a designated hitter or off the bench.
So where does this stand? Do the Yankees bank on a healthy Miguel Andujar and use Urshela to their advantage?
Manager Aaron Boone and some of the Yankees’ staff plan a visit to the Dominican Republic in the next few days and gather a further evaluation.of Andujar.
“We believe he is going to be totally healthy as we enter Spring Training and good to go,” Boone was quoted as saying this week.
And from the reports, Andujar has been taking ground balls and throwing.
“He’s good to go right now,” Boone said. “We feel like he’s in a really good spot physically. We’ll get to spend a little bit of time with him and put our eyes on him a little bit.”
Again this is a good sign. And, unless an offer is too enticing for the Yankees, that would get them something valuable in return, expect a nice battle to determine who will start at third for the Yankees come Opening Day.
Brian Cashman, a believer in both, has said that third base for now is in the hands of Ursehla. And when it comes to making contact at the plate, Urshela and Andujar hit the ball on the screws.
Consistently hitting the ball on the screws is part of the equation and the Yankees interest in DJ LeMahieu was drawn, in particular, by DJ having the highest percentage of hard hit balls in the game.
Though the ground ball rate was above average. The same applies to Andujar and Urshela.
Said a high-ranking baseball official, “The ALCS with the Astros showed that Ursehla was one of two Yankees with DJ that the Astros played straight up. They shifted effectively on the rest of the lineup.”
And when you come down to it, that’s what makes this a great situation for the Yankees. So let the battle begin in four weeks or so when Aaron Boone begins his third season as the manager.
It could be a job that Miguel Andujar has to battle for. Then again, either way, third base, designated hitter, or even the outfield for Gio Urshela is not a bad option.
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