Yankees Mailbag: Miguel Andújar, an unlikely trade, and injury depth

Good afternoon everyone, it’s time for another edition of the mailbag. Remember to send in your questions for our weekly call by e-mail to pinstripealleyblog [at] gmail [dot] com.

Bluelaws asks: How big is the downside (defensively) if Andújar plays left instead of Gallo? Would Andújar’s hitting be enough to make up for the defensive downgrade?

The short answer: significant, and no.

The long answer: The Yankees briefly tried giving Miguel Andújar some reps in the outfield after the 2019 season, when Gio Urshela arrived onto the stage and Wally Pipp’d Andújar’s spot on the roster. The team still believed in his bat, but wanted to see if there was flexibility in his defensive capabilities (which were already known to be below-average at his primary position) that would make it easier to get him some at-bats. Andújar took some starts in left field, and it went pretty disastrously – he did not make many errors, but it was clear that the routes he took were never going to be efficient, and aside from a couple of spot starts Andújar hasn’t seen much time there. There’s no way that he could go from that to the full-time, or even really a part-time starter in left for the Yankees right now.

As for the bat, it’s no secret that Joey Gallo hasn’t lived up to his reputation with his lumber so far in pinstripes. The outfielder is seriously struggling out of the gate this year after slumping through the second half of 2021, and it remains to be seen whether he’s going to earn some time on the bench going forward. However, Andújar’s offense outside of his one full season in 2018 hasn’t been anything to write home about. He hasn’t gotten a lot of playing time, true, but his Triple-A success last year didn’t translate well to the majors, and I’m hesitant to trust it again this year after just a couple of weeks.

The idiot that said, “Harper is coming” asks: Since the Rangers currently have the second worst record in baseball, could the Yankees right a wrong by trading for Corey Seager by the deadline?

You mentioned later in your question that this is half-joking, but that there is some groundwork here. The Rangers were a pretty bad team that tried to jumpstart their rebuild by signing some key pieces in Seager and Marcus Semien, and while those two are good the team still hasn’t looked competitive yet. It’s obviously early, but they’re in tough waters with the ever-competitive Astros core still around and the Mariners rising to challenge them, on top of the Angels consistently looking promising (before somehow falling flat on their faces).

I’m going to say no, for a few reasons, but the Rangers are indeed a weird case to study. It feels like they made a deal that echoes their signing of Alex Rodriguez 20 years ago, and like those A-Rod Rangers, this team may not be able to support a superstar shortstop on a massive contract. That being said, it still took Texas a few years to make the decision to move on from A-Rod, and if the Rangers were going to move one of their two middle infielders they would probably start with Semien over Seager. They’re a team to keep an eye on, whether its for if they figure it all out or if they do not.

Russell H. asks: When the inevitable injury bug hits the starters, who is in line to get called up? Is it possible we could see Waldichuk or is it still too early for him to hit the bigs?

If we’re talking about starting pitching specifically, there’s a long list of options that the team will probably turn to before Waldichuk, but that’s no fault of his own – the young prospect is putting up impressive results at Double-A Somerset, but this is his first exposure to the upper levels of the minors and there’s a lot of pitching depth in the system. It is in fact too early to be talking about him, but perhaps not too early to talk about Hayden Wesneski, who is also putting on a show a level above in Triple-A Scranton.

Given the struggles that Deivi García and Luis Gil have had in the early going, combined with García’s disastrous 2021 season in general, there’s room for Wesneski to jump up the totem pole and position himself for a tryout with the big league team this year. It’s also worth noting that Manny Bañuelos is continuing to throw quality innings in Scranton, and could be an immediate callup for the bullpen if an arm is ever needed, even though he did not make the initial cut for the 16-man pitching staff.

The position player depth has been discussed more ad-nauseum due to underperformance from the regulars, but while the team shouldn’t rush them along for the sake of replacing struggling players they could do so for guys who go on the IL. Estevan Florial, Oswaldo Cabrera, and the aforementioned Andújar could all be a call away if that happens.

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