Third Base Story Awaits Yankees

By Rich Mancuso/ Sports Editor

Gio Urshela or Miguel Andujar? That will the storyline when the Yankees assemble in Tampa for Spring Training in four weeks. Urshela and the Yankees reportedly agreed to a one-year contract of $2.475 million on Friday.

That was the deadline for arbitration eligible players and it was a deal well deserved for Urshela, with that breakout year in 2019. The unexpected and unknown player became a major boost to an injury ridden Yankees roster. 

A good situation for the Yankees and decision making for manager Aaron Boone. 

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. 

And after earning a Major League minimum of $550,00 last year, Gio Urshela got that boost of confidence.  The job is his, unless of course, Miguel Andujar does something to get it back at third base,

Here are a few things to consider. A high-ranking baseball official, one who has knowledge of both, put this in perspective as GM Brian Cashman and Boone will eventually make the final call.

Of course, analytics could also play a role with how this all pans out for the Yankees lineup in 2020.

“Consistently hitting the ball on the screws is part of the equation,” he said. “And the Yankees interest in DJ LeMahieu was drawn, in particular,  by DJ having the highest percentage of hard hit balls in the game.”

What does this have to do with DJ LeMahieu, who also has an MVP year in his first year with the Yankees?

“Ground ball rate was above average,” he said. “The same applies to Andujar and Urshela.”

So, they both make contact. They will hit for power. And today, with analytics and such, Urshela and Andujar will make contact and get on base. They know how to disrupt the shift which has changed a perplexion of the game.

And they are solid defenders at third base. No need to debate the highlight reels that Gio Urshela made in 2019, and the year before it was Miguel Andujar doing the same before being curtailed to 24 games last season.

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.

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, indeed this is a good predicament for the Yankees.  Aaron Boone is optimistic. It’s what will be seen on that visit to the Dominican Republic that will also be taken into the determination.

“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.”

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. 

Comment:  Twitter@Ring786 Mancuso

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