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Demilio: Miguel Andújar’s Role Becoming Less Clear for 2023 (+)



Pittsburgh Pirates, Miguel Andujar

The Pittsburgh Pirates may have opened some eyes towards the very end of last season when they claimed Miguel Andújar off waivers from the New York Yankees in September.

Andújar emerged as a household name with the Bronx Bombers in 2018, when he hit .297 with 27 home runs and 92 RBIs en route to a second-place A.L. Rookie of the Year finish.

Just 27 years old, Andújar gave the Pirates a relatively young player who at one point looked like he was on a very promising track in his career.

After injures and inconsistent playing time led the Yankees to part ways with Andújar, the Pirates decided to give him a fresh start in the Steel City.

In nine games with the Pirates to end the season, Andújar drove in nine runs and the club went 6-3 in those nine contests with Andújar’s bat in the lineup.

Looking ahead, the Pirates have already avoided arbitration with the native of the Dominican Republic after agreeing to a $1.525M salary for 2023.

Andújar looked to be a prime candidate to get playing time as a right-handed bat in the outfield, as a designated hitter and even at first base.

After seeing how the Pirates’ offseason has unfolded so far, that role has become a bit murkier.

The Pirates brought in a pair of players who are both capable of manning first base and designated hitter in Ji-Man Choi and Carlos Santana. Santana, as a switch-hitter, has done well against lefties in his career.

Ok, so he might just get more time in the outfield then, right?

Well, the team’s latest move might say otherwise. The Bucs swung a trade, acquiring Connor Joe from the Colorado Rockies over the weekend, making that scenario more interesting.

Like Andújar, Joe is a right-handed bat. Also like Andújar, Joe has spent his time in the corner outfield spots, first base and DH.

Andújar is still likely to get playing time, likely with the bulk coming in left field and as a designated hitter. But, it seems as though the moves the Pirates have made this offseason have led to more of a reduced role than originally thought.

On the bright side for the Pirates, Andújar still gives them another right-handed option at the plate.

Last season, the Pirates’ options for the lineup became a bit to left-handed heavy. The Bucs managed just a .647 OPS against southpaws, fourth-worst in the majors.

While Andújar will certainly be counted on to help improve that number, his playing time seems to be lessening as the offseason marches on.

While it’s still too early to know for sure, Andújar will try and make the most of the opportunities he is given to try and work his way into the lineup more.

What was looking like a potential everyday role, to what became a platoon option, now looks even more diminished.

On the other hand, competition tends to be a good thing that can bring out the best in players. Maybe that’s what the Pirates are aiming for here.

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