After a season that had him as one of the finalists for the American League Rookie of the Year, Miguel Andujar had to spend the winter listening to everyone debate if he should start at third base this season.
To those who were ready to move him to first or the outfield, Aaron Boone made it clear on Wednesday that isn’t happening anytime soon.
“He’ll play entirely at third,” the Yankee manager said of Andujar during Grapefruit League games this spring. “That said, there may be a day or two that we pick to have him on a back field just to get some first base in, which we may do with (backup catcher Austin) Romine or (starting catcher) Gary (Sanchez) just to keep some versatile options when you get into a little bit of a bind. But (Andujar’s) game work will be, I’ll say now, pretty much at third base.”
Obviously that is contingent on the Yankees not signing free agent infielder Manny Machado (unlikely), which would throw Andujar’s spot back into question.
But Andujar’s bat plays at any position.
In 2018, he hit .297/.328/.527 with 27 homers and 92 RBI in 149 games.
His defense, however, did not fare so well at third base. The .948 fielding percentage was well below the league average and his negative-25 defensive runs saved rating last season were abysmal.
But the 23-year-old impressed the Yankees with his willingness to work on his weaknesses. Boone said he has been impressed with how Andujar attacked his defensive flaws this winter.
“There are some things that we’ve had him work on defensively that I think really have taken hold with him and I think he’s had a great winter of work,” Boone said. “I think (those) who have been around him see the kind of work ethic (he has). That’s reared its head in the winter and I feel like he’s another guy that comes into spring training in a really good place and I’m excited to see him in another year in his progression of what’s a really good player.”