You know the old saying “the devil you know vs. the devil you don’t” well that sometimes applies to Major League Baseball as well as your regular, everyday life. This is especially true when you consider teams who play in huge media markets like the New York Yankees. Sometimes the devil you know, the player who may be average or a solid player but can handle the bright lights and big city, can be the better choice than the devil you don’t know, or the player who lets the media circus and the fans constant cheering and boos affect them. We’ve seen it far too many times, see Randy Johnson as an example of someone who buckled under the pressure while we have players like Alfonso Soriano and Brandon McCarthy who seemingly flourished in the Bronx, and we may see it again here in a few seasons when the likes of Bryce Harper and Manny Machado hit the free agency market. For the sake of this post we will focus on the latter and not the former and ask the question, by the 2019 season will the Yankees have the devil they “know” in prospect Miguel Andujar as their third baseman or the devil they don’t in Machado on Opening Day?
Over the last two seasons Machado has put up an average triple slash of .290/.351/.518 with 36 home runs, 91 RBI, 35 doubles and 104 runs scored. That’s an average… not the total. Only Mike Trout the 2016 AL MVP Award winner, Josh Donaldson and Kris Bryant the 2016 NL MVP Award winner have had a higher WAR in that same span according to Fangraphs. In a nutshell Machado has been amazing over the past two seasons and he is somehow still just 24-years old. Any team would love to have a Gold Glove winner at shortstop that is capable of playing shortstop in a pinch and any team would love to have another big bopper in the middle of their lineup, which is going to make him extremely expensive. Would New York dip their foot into the deep end of the free agent market again for Machado in the winter before the 2019 season or would they simply see what they have in Andujar and continue their youth movement?
Andujar had a pretty good 2016 campaign himself, albeit while splitting time between the High-A Tampa Yankees and the Double-A Trenton Thunder but still, putting up a .273/.332/.410 triple slash with 12 home runs and 83 RBI in his age-21 season. Andujar, who enters his age-22 season in 2017, did enough to warrant the Yankees adding him to their 40 man roster as the organization now sees him as the third basemen of the future. Maybe. I say maybe because Andujar is still considered raw by many accounts but almost every one of the Yankees scouts have had nothing but exciting things to say about his untapped potential and his attitude towards the game. Projections state that Andujar, much like we see now with Machado, will hit for average, hit for power and use the whole field when he reaches the Major Leagues and reaches his full potential.
It is impossible to say with any certainty what the Yankees are going to do two seasons from now as a lot can happen between then and now and a lot can change as well. If the past is any indicator of the future though it seems like Hal Steinbrenner and his fiscally responsible ways will be quite confident with having Andujar, and not an extremely expensive Machado, at the hot corner on Opening Day 2019. Just a hunch though.