Fantasy Baseball: Need a Miguel Andujar replacement? Infield depth being tested by injuries

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Giancarlo Stanton went on the IL, and it wasn't even the Yankees' biggest injury news of the day.

No, that honor went to Miguel Andujar, who isn't dealing with a Grade 1 strain — to his biceps or otherwise — and isn't looking at a return within the next couple weeks. In fact, he may not return at all.

His injury, an MRI has confirmed, is a labral tear in his right shoulder, sustained diving back into a base Sunday. If it sounds familiar, it's because it's what happened to Jimmy Nelson two years ago.

He hasn't played since.

Maybe this one isn't as bad. The fact Andujar is a position player probably makes a difference, and it's worth noting he hasn't conceded to season-ending surgery yet, planning to re-evaluate in two weeks. But my expectation is it'll be like Corey Knebel's hope of avoiding Tommy John surgery: wishful thinking.

That means you better start making your contingency plan. If you're lucky, you already have another competent third baseman on your roster. It was arguably the deepest position coming into the year, so in many cases, you couldn't help but double dip.

But if you somehow wound up with Andujar and only Andujar, what's left isn't pretty.

Not helping the situation is that we've already lost a couple high-end infielders in Scooter Gennett, who could miss half the year, and Daniel Murphy, whose timetable looks to be much shorter but nonetheless has impacted the player pool. Gennett and Murphy are both second basemen, of course, but their losses still limit the potential third base alternatives.

Why, you ask? Look no further than the guy replacing Andujar in the Yankees lineup, DJ LeMahieu, who will gain third base eligibility in short order but is already eligible at second base ... and was perhaps one of the first places a Gennett or Murphy owner looked. His value is higher now that we know he'll play every day, but you can't expect him to contribute like he did in his Rockies days, not outside the BABIP wonderland of Coors Field. Truth is he's a less than ideal choice in mixed leagues given his lack of power and speed.

So who would be preferable? Jeff McNeil of the Mets offers a more environment-neutral contact profile while having a slightly better hope of contributing power and/or speed. Like LeMahieu, he hasn't secured third base eligibility yet, qualifying only at second, but it's the position he's playing most often right now.

But again, the Gennett or Murphy owner may have already scooped him up, especially since batting average is what all of these players do best (Andujar included). McNeil, like LeMahieu, is already owned in two-thirds of CBS Sports leagues. So who else?

One player who is highly available, owned in just 18 percent of CBS Sprots leagues, and free from interference of the second-base seekers, is Yandy Diaz, who came into the season as a bit of a project for the Rays. He had only one home run to his name in parts of two seasons (299 total plate appearances) with the Indians, but his exit velocity hinted of untapped power potential. The Rays just needed him to hit the ball in the air more, and so far he has.

It has led to his second career home run and two doubles, and despite a crowded infield picture, he has started all five of the Rays' games. Most interestingly, he has struck out only once. If the fly-ball rate holds, it's a profile much like Andujar's, except with the potential for a higher on-base percentage.

Among the widely available options, Diaz is a must right now for Andujar owners. He ranks behind McNeil in the overall pecking order, but not by much.

Here are some other potential third base replacements, complete with pros and cons:

Third base replacements

Ownership
ProCon
65
playing time, power low BA, OBP
52
playing time modest power
42
big power contact issues, playing time
26
OBP, power pros are mostly theoretical
4
makes contact, some pop terrible lineup, playing time

It's worth pointing out there are also some interesting second base pickups if you have a dual-eligible player you want to slide over to third or if you happen to be looking for a Murphy or Gennett replacement:

  • Brandon Lowe of the Rays has a good power profile along with on-base skills and is set for everyday duties with Joey Wendle sidelined by a strained hamstring. He's only 34 percent owned.
  • Adam Frazier looks like the everyday leadoff man for the Pirates and isn't completely punchless at the plate. You could do worse than a player with 15-homer, 90-run upside, especially since he's just 27 percent owned.
  • Ian Kinsler is the leadoff hitter for what looks like a dynamic Padres lineup. He puts the bat on the ball and still offers modest power and speed. The whole could be greater than the sum of the parts, particularly in a points league. He's only 26 percent owned.

And of course, there's always the option of making a trade, but this early in the season, it's not so clear what your excesses are. You'd hate to saddle yourself with another weakness looking to correct this one. You're probably better off trying to strike it rich off the waiver wire, at least until we get final confirmation on Andujar.

Senior Fantasy Writer

Raised in Atlanta by a board game-loving family during the dawn of the '90s Braves dynasty, Scott White was easy prey for the Fantasy Sports, in particular Fantasy Baseball, and has devoted his adulthood... Full Bio

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