Give Miguel Andujar credit for this much – he keeps fighting his way back to the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The first baseman/outfielder was designated for assignment and dropped off the 40-man roster last offseason. He also did not make the team in spring training.
Yet Andujar returned to the major leagues on April 29 when he was called up from Triple-A Indianapolis and then hit a home run in both games of a doubleheader split with the Nationals in Washington that day.
However, Andujar lasted less than three weeks in the big leagues. He was DFA’s again and outrighted to Indianapolis after hitting just .161/.212/.387 in 13 games.
Yet like crabgrass and monsters in old low-budget horror movies, Andujar refuses to die. The Pirates selected his contract from Indianapolis on Friday when the major-league roster limit expanded to 28 from 26 for the season’s final month.
Give Andujar points for stick-to-itness. He hit his way back to the big leagues with a .353/.415/.545 slash line and 13 homers in 80 games for Indianapolis following his demotion.
From a performance standpoint, Andujar certainly deserves his latest promotion. Yet from a big-picture standpoint, it is hard to make sense of exactly what bringing Andujar back to the major leagues means.
The Pirates have gone into a full-blast youth movement since Andujar was last in the big leagues 3.5 months ago. Nearly half of the players on their active roster are rookies.
Andujar is 28 years old and indeed doesn’t profile as a prospect. In fact, Andujar has spent five years trying to recapture the major-league form he showed as a rookie in 2018 with the New York Yankees.
Andujar was second in the American League Rookie of the Year voting that year, losing out to the great Shohei Ohtani while hitting .297/.328/.527 with 27 home runs and 92 RBIs in 149 games.
Since then, Andujar has slashed .225/.254/.329 with 10 homers in 141 games.
One could argue that Andujar has never gotten a fair chance to prove he could duplicate his rookie season. He was crowded out of the Yankees’ lineup in his second season in 2019 and played in just 12 games.
However, a counterargument could be made that Andujar hasn’t done enough to warrant getting everyday at-bats again in the big leagues.
The Pirates have been using a platoon of Alfonso Rivas and Connor Joe at first since trading Carlos Santana and Ji-Man Choi at the deadline. Neither would appear to be a long-term answer at the position or even strong possibilities for 2024, so Andujar could fit into the plans at first base next season with a strong showing.
However, when Andujar got his first start Saturday night since his return, he played right field in a 7-6 victory over the Cardinals in St. Louis.
Of course, when the Pirates claimed Andujar off waivers last September from the Yankees, it was with the hope that he could be a regular this season. Instead, Andujar not only failed to make the final cut in spring training but never seemed like a serious candidate to be on the opening-day roster.
So, it’s hard to figure out exactly what the Pirates are trying to do by calling Andujar up instead of a prospect who would benefit from a month in the big leagues.
It’s a curious situation.