Saturday, April 6, 2019

Yankees Call Up Urshela, Who Is Set To Take Over At Third Base

Giovanny Urshela during spring training.

The Yankees called up infielder Giovanny Urshela from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and signed him to a Major League contract on Saturday.
The Yankees also optioned INF Thairo Estrada to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He was called up on Thursday morning when Troy Tulowitzki went to the 10-day injured list.

Shortstop Didi Gregorius, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery, was transferred to the 60-day injured list.

Urshela, who will wear number 29, was acquired by the Yankees from the Toronto Blue Jays last August for cash considerations. The Yankees re-signed him in October, and he hit .321 (9-28), with two home runs and three RBI in 11 games in a spring training that was shortened due to injury.

The 27-year old played 167 Major League games in his time with the Cleveland Indians (2015 and 2017) and the Blue Jays (2018), hitting .225 with a .274 on-base percentage, with eight home runs, 39 RBI, 16 doubles, a triple, 46 runs scored, 28 walks, and 90 strikeouts.

Urshela will see time at third base, along with Tyler Wade, who was called up when Miguel Andujar went to the IL on Monday, and DJ LeMahieu, who was signed in the offseason.

On Saturday afternoon, Yankees Manager Aaron Boone made it clear what he expects of Urshela.

"With our roster situation right now, [Urshela] is going to play," Boone said. "He'll play a lot of third base for us. I would say he'll be in there quite a bit while he's here. Then the other guys, obviously with DJ and Wade, those are guys we feel more comfortable moving around. Gio, we view primarily as a third baseman and an elite defender over there."

This was a very prudent move by the Yankees to give Urshela third base while rotating LeMahieu and Wade at second base and shortstop. Gleyber Torres primarily plays second and he can shift to short when necessary, and Boone also now has reliable depth if he wants to give his young star a day off.

"Once I got traded to the Yankees, I made some adjustments to the swing," said Urshela, who hit .307 at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre last August. "I changed a few things here and there, and they are working out for me right now. I can't tell [what they are]...when you make an adjustment and see it paying off, you are going to feel good about it."

The 2018 season was quite a journey for Urshela. He began the season with the Indians on the disabled list with a right hamstring strain from March 26 to May 4. He then played 11 games with Triple-A Columbus and hit .324 (12-37) with no homers, 7 RBI, 6 runs scored, four doubles, and 5 walks. He was reinstated from the DL on May 4 and designated for assignment. 

Cleveland traded Urshela to Toronto May 9, 2018, and he appeared in 19 games for the Blue Jays, hitting .233 (10-43) with 1 home run, 3 RBI, 7 runs scored, and 1 double. He was then designated for assignment on June 26 and outrighted to Triple-A Buffalo, where he hit .244 (21-86) with no homers, 5 RBI, 7 runs scored, 3 doubles, and 4 walks.

The Yankees acquired Urshela on August 4 and he finished the season with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. In 27 games, he hit .307 (31-101) with 2 homers, 12 RBI, 14 runs scored, 7 doubles, and 2 triples. In nine postseason games for the RailRiders, he had a slash line of .382/.475/.588 (13-34), with 1 homer, 10 RBI, 5 runs scored,4 doubles, and 5 walks.

After the season, Urshela played for the Tigres del Licey of the Dominican Winter League. In 26 games, he hit .229 (22-96) with 1 homer, 10 RBI, 11 runs scored, 9 doubles, and 4 walks. 

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