Miguel Andujar is finally free.
The Yankee who went from the American League Rookie of the Year runner-up (lost to Shohei Ohtani) in 2018 to back to the minors over the last three seasons was designated for assignment on Thursday to make room on the 40-man roster for Zack Britton before the series opener against the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium.
“It’s tough. It is. It may end up that he clears (waivers) and I don’t know if anyone has claimed him yet or anything like that. But he’s a great kid, who works really hard. He’s worked really hard at making himself a quality left fielder,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said after the Yankees 5-4, 10-inning walk-off win over the Red Sox at the Stadium. “He’s still really talented. So you never know when it can really pop and still click for a guy that has shown he can do it at this level too.”
Several scouts who watched Andujar in Triple-A this season said they would be shocked if he wasn’t claimed quickly.
Andujar, who hit 27 home runs and 47 doubles in 2018, played 149 games that season. He came into 2019 as the Yankees starting third baseman, despite the fact that he was not even average defensively. He suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in the opening weekend of the season and was replaced by Gio Urshela. He never made it back as a regular player. Over the next three years, Andujar played in 93 games hitting eight homers and 25 RBI.
Andujar asked for a trade a few times and this year he made it clear he felt he needed to find a new way to the big leagues.
“I enjoy playing baseball,” Andujar said through Yankees interpreter Marlon Abreu back in July. “I’ve been playing this game for a long time now. I want to play at this level. The exact details of the conversation I want to keep private.”
Given his success early on in his career, there will be teams who will give Andujar a chance.
One scout who watched Andujar in Triple-A this year said that Andujar impressed him with “solid,” at-bats and that teams “still see bat value,” in him.
A day after expressing his frustration with the Yankees’ indecision, Zack Britton got his wish and was activated. The lefty reliever last pitched in a big league game a season ago before being shut down to have Tommy John surgery last October. Now, he has 14 games left to prove he can help them in the playoffs.
“That’s the only reason I’m pitching right now,” Britton said. “Otherwise, I would have just shut it down. I feel like if I get enough innings that I can be myself and I can help in the postseason. Like I said, time will tell if that’s gonna be the case, but that’s my goal.”
Britton is in the last year of his contract with the Yankees. He made just 22 appearances last season before he was shut down. Britton has 154 career saves and had a 1.89 ERA in 2020, his last full season.
While the Yankees may not have been counting on Britton, he would have been much needed veteran help for a bullpen that has already been stretched thin by injuries to Chad Green and Michael King. The bullpen has struggled over the last month, showing their issues when they gave up seven runs Tuesday night against the Pirates.
To get Britton on the 28-man roster, the Yankees placed Wandy Peralta on the 15-day injured list with what the team said is left thoracic spine tightness. That involves the middle of the spine from neck to ribs.
“He’s been down in the last couple of days,” Boone said. “Still there today and not getting much improvement there. We don’t think it’s serious. Something that’s popped up a couple times over the last four to six weeks. This time it’s been a few days though. So it just feels like it’s something we want to knock out right now. And hopefully, hopefully a couple more days we start wrapping them up again and he’d be available then through the Texas series.”
Andrew Benintendi was back with the club on Thursday after missing Wednesday with an illness. The left fielder said the hand is getting better and he is able to physically work out, but not able to do anything with the hand he had surgery on yet. He said the best case scenario for him would be to be able to come back during the postseason.
“That was always the plan,” Benintendi said.
The left fielder had surgery to repair the hook of the hamate bone earlier this month.
DJ LeMahieu hit in a regular batting practice group for the first time on Thursday. He also did some running on the bases after. The infielder is on the IL with right toe inflammation.