The Yankees tried, but didn't succeed in having 3B Miguel Andujar avoid season-ending surgery on his torn labrum in his right shoulder.
After suffering another tear following his extensive rehab, Andujar just didn't seem right when he returned to the Yanks, and an MRI revealing another small labrum tear explained why. So Andujar opted for season-ending surgery that will be performed by Dr. Christopher Ahmad on Monday.
This is not what the Yankees wanted to see from their young third baseman, who was the AL Rookie of the Year runner-up a season ago. GM Brian Cashman and manager Aaron Boone praised the development of Andujar being key for the Yankees' future all offseason, and he was a main reason why the team was "lukewarm" on Manny Machado in free agency.
But this loss of Andujar shouldn't cause a gaping hole in the Yankees' lineup. New York is lucky to have solid reinforcements that can plug that hole for the rest of the season.
The first is Gio Urshela, who was brought on during Andujar's first rehab stint. He hasn't been able to find a solid home since breaking into the league in 2015, but Urshela's niche seems to be in the Bronx to start the season.
The 27-year-old is slashing .330/.385/.489 with two homers and 15 RBI over 33 games, and he's even come through in the clutch. He homered in the bottom of the ninth against the Mariners to tie the game that eventually led to a walk off win by DJ LeMahieu (who we'll get to later). And in the recent Rays series, his two-out RBI single in the sixth led to a win.
Urshela has also been solid defensively for the Yanks, with only four errors in 31 games at third base.
Considering Urshela hasn't shown this type of success in his past seasons, it wouldn't be the smart bet to say he sustains this production. However, he does seem very confident at the plate, and pitchers haven't been able to figure him out just yet. The Yankees will certainly take that, and he should be their featured third baseman as things move forward.
But let's say Urshela's performance begins to falter. This is where LeMahieu, the Yankees utility infielder, can alleviate the damage. Cashman brought in LeMahieu on a two-year, $24 million deal for a reason, and it has already surfaced early on with the injury bug hitting the Yanks.
With Troy Tulowitzki still out with his calf strain, Gleyber Torres has been forced to shortstop, while LeMahieu primarily plays second. But he could shift over to third base if Boone sees fit.
LeMahieu's consistent, contact bat has been on fully display in 2019 with a .322/.371/.434 line with two homers and 21 RBI. He's already logged 13 games at third as well, with just one error to his record.
Andujar's power bat will certainly be missed, but the production shouldn't slack. Urshela's emergence has alleviated the loss already, and LeMahieu's safety net allows the Yankees to look ahead ot Andujar's full recovery knowing there are players in his spot to hold down the fort while he's gone.