As the rallying cry of the 2019 Yankees season, the 'next man up' rotation has produced in the absence of Miguel Andujar. The 27-year-old Gio Urshela hasn't just produced, he's excelled. In the span of a couple months, he has transformed from a forgotten third basemen to a true two-way talent.
His performance has been such a surprise, thus raising the essential question - could Andujar's future in New York be in jeopardy?
It's a fascinating thought to ponder, and surely a decision that the Yankees will eventually have to make. Andujar is due back before the 2020 season, putting him in position to reclaim his starting role. But can we assume that he will be given the starting job right away? It seems unlikely. Recent history has shown that the Yankees prefer to let guys battle it out through spring training.
In the case of Urshela and Andujar, much like Greg Bird and Luke Voit at first base this past spring, the starter shouldn't be assumed. After all, would it be fair for any team to forget about a depth option who hit .300+? Considering all he's done for New York this season, he certainly deserves to get his chance at a starting spot.
Urshela's emergence could also cause the Yankees to think about moving Andujar. He was reportedly dangled in talks at the deadline, and while his torn labrum recovery will affect his trade value, teams will still be interested in the 24-year-old slugger. Urshela has clearly shown that he's capable in a starting role, and that after 293 at-bats, his breakout his for real.
But trading Andujar certainly isn't a given. He proved that his bat was a threat for power and average in 2018, while his defense was in need of dire refinement. GM Brian Cashman refused to give him up for Gerrit Cole, before he was ultimately dealt to Houston. He could easily choose to keep him, let him recover and slowly retake the position. With Urshela likely in his prime at age 28, the Yankees will have to question whether they want his elite defense for more years or the upside of Andujar's power and contact ability.
The Yankees, as they did much of 2018, would likely overlook his defensive shortcomings. His presence in the lineup would be enough reason for him to get his opportunity. It's the opposite for Urshela, who has continually provided highlight reel plays and impressive range.
New York could simply keep them both, relating back to a potential spring training competition. Whoever doesn't get the starting gig would still be in an important and useful role, serving as a designated hitter and earning a fair share of starts at third. The 2019 Yankees have proved more than anything that legitimate depth can quite literally save a season, considering Urshela has essentially matched Andujar's production. For that reason alone, keeping both on the roster would do wonders for New York's roster.
The bench would have to be sorted out, but those are problems the team would figure out later. The fact is, they have two legit third basemen on their hands. And for a team with World Series aspirations, that's a good problem to have.