Posted on May 16, 2019, by Bryan Zarpentine
The New York Yankees have dealt with a lot of injuries early in the season. But they now have their first player who’s been officially ruled out for the remainder of the 2019 season. The team announced Wednesday that third baseman Miguel Andujar will undergo shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum. The surgery will ensure that Andujar’s 2019 season is over.
The Yankees were expecting big things from Andujar in 2019 and beyond. The 24-year-old had an outstanding rookie season, ultimately finishing second in American League Rookie of the Year voting. However, he missed all of April after suffering a torn labrum in the third game of the season. After a month of rest and rehab, Andujar returned to the lineup earlier this month. But after going 3 for 34 since his return from the Injured List, Andujar and the Yankees re-evaluated their options and ultimately chose season-ending surgery.
“Miggy is beloved in that room and obviously really important to us between the lines,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said Wednesday. “Hopefully, this is a really good step for him and starting the healing process. I look forward to him getting it done and on his way back to make a full recovery. I hurt for him a little bit, but I also know this is the beginning of the road back.”
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If healthy, Andujar would have been an important part of New York’s lineup this season, especially amidst their other injuries. The team is also playing without power hitters Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton. The Yankees are also hoping that shortstop Didi Gregorius will be able to join them for the second half of the season after having Tommy John surgery last fall. Meanwhile, his replacement, Troy Tulowitzki, is also on the IL. Given those injuries, Andujar’s absence is noticeable both in the middle of the order and in terms of the team’s infield depth.
“We want our guys healthy,” Yankees outfielder Aaron Hicks said of the loss of Andujar. “Most important, we want our guys to be healthy and come and play their kind of baseball. Obviously, him not being in the lineup is huge. He’s a great contributor for us, especially last year. We want the player we had last year.”
For the moment, Gio Urshela has replaced Andujar as the primary third baseman. He’s become a surprising offensive contributor, hitting .330 with an OPS of .874. Those numbers have certainly allowed the Yankees to get by without Andujar in the lineup. However, they are far above what Urshela’s career numbers say he’ll likely produce over the course of the season. It’s unlikely he’ll sustain that kind of productivity all season, at which point the Yankees will start to feel Andujar’s absence even more.
Ultimately, when either Gregorius and Tulowitzki returns, it’ll be easier for the Yankees to move DJ LeMahieu to third base if needed. LeMahieu is a more established player than Ursehela and should provide more reliable productivity over the long haul. Until then, they can only hope that Urshela can continue his hot hitting in place of Andujar.
Until now, the Yankees have been able to rationalize their unfair rash of injuries because they know their players will eventually return from the IL. But Andujar is the first player they know won’t be coming back. Instead of finding a place-filler like Urshela, the Yankees need a permanent solution at third base. One way or another, they need to find one now that Andujar is officially done in 2019.