PITTSBURGH – Miguel Andujar went from first place to last place in the blink of a waiver claim Sunday night. Yet he couldn’t have been happier Monday afternoon.
Andujar joined the Pirates on Monday, a day after being claimed from the New York Yankees. He was in the starting lineup as the designated hitter and batting third for the opener of a three-game series against the Cincinnati Reds at PNC Park.
The Yankees are in first place in the American League East and assured of a spot in the postseason. The Pirates are in last place in the National League Central again after finishing in the division cellar each of the last three seasons.
Doesn’t matter to Andujar.
“I’m super happy to be here,” he said. “They have a good group of guys here. I know some of the guys and I’m happy the Pirates want me here. I’m looking forward to the opportunity.”
Opportunity is the operative word for Andujar.
The 27-year-old made his major league debut in 2017 with a five-game cameo for the Yankees.
The following year, Andujar finished second in the American League Rookie of the Year voting to Los Angeles Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani. Serving as the Yankees’ primary third baseman, Andujar hit .297/.328/.527 with 27 home runs and 92 RBIs in 149 games.
“I just think I had a lot of confidence and having a chance to play every day helped give me a chance to show my best every day out on the field,” Andujar said.
However, between injuries and being passed on the depth chart, Andujar has played in just 105 games for the Yankees over the last four seasons. He appeared in 27 games this season, batting .229/.250/.281 with one homer and eight RBIs.
In 71 games at Triple Scranton/Wilkes-Barre this year, Andujar slashed .285/.330/.487 with 13 homers and 51 RBIs.
Just nine games remain in the season, but still enough time for the Pirates to see if Andujar might fit into their future.
“It’s not very often that you’re able to make a waiver claim on someone like that,” Pirates manager Derek Shelton said. “He was in a situation with the Yankees of just being behind other guys. He just hasn’t gotten the opportunity.”
Shelton said Andujar will mainly DH and play third base and in the outfield.
It seems Andujar’s long-term fit with the Pirates would be at first base. Chavis made a team-high 82 starts at first this season and there is no clear-cut favorite to be the opening day starter at the position in 2023.
Andujar has played in just three games at first base in the major leagues. However, he will work on his defense with bench coach Don Kelly in pre-game sessions during the coming days.
“I’m ready to play it,” Andujar said. “For me to be in the game, I’ll be happy for that. I’m just looking forward to getting an opportunity. Whatever they want.”