MLB Free Agent Profile: DJ LeMahieuby Alex Kielar November 7, 2020 1 comment
Like “The Machine” that he is, DJ LeMahieu continued to be a consistent clutch hitter in 2020. He well overperformed for the two years with the New York Yankees and was their most consistent hitter. He did miss nearly two weeks this season due to a thumb injury. But he really showed why he was the Yankees’ MVP when he came back. It wasn’t just the hitting for LeMahieu either, as he flashed the leather at second base as well.
Here’s a breakdown of what to expect LeMahieu’s market to look like this offseason.
LeMahieu was a second-round draft pick by the Chicago Cubs in the 2009 MLB Draft. He made his debut with the Cubs in 2011 and played in 37 games. He was then traded to the Colorado Rockies along with Tyler Colvin for Ian Weathers and Casey Weathers in the 2011 offseason. The Rockies were easily the winners of the trade. LeMahieu went on to hit .299, make two All-Star Games, and win three gold gloves over his seven years in Colorado. His best season was 2016 when he won the National League batting title with a .348 average while hitting 11 homers and driving in 66 runs.
When he became a free agent following the 2018 season, a lot of people wondered if his numbers would translate outside of Coors Field. This helped the Yankees sign him to the cheap deal. In the two seasons, he completely threw the “Coors Effect” theory out the window. In 2019, LeMahieu posted career highs in homers (26), RBIs (102), hits (197), and bWAR (5.9). He followed that up in the shortened 2020 season with a .364 average which won him the batting title for the American League. He became the first player to ever win the batting title in both leagues. LeMahieu also had a 1.011 OPS and took home his second-straight Silver Slugger Award.
LeMahieu is the type of hitter that would really fit anywhere, especially with the way teams have too much boom-or-bust. He is a rare breed of old school hitter and still has the hidden pop in his bat. The 32-year old will likely get a lucrative deal around the four-year, $20 million per year range.
Top Landing Spots
New York Yankees
The Yankees so need to retain LeMahieu to help spread out the power bats. With their inability to hit with RISP in the postseason, keeping a contact hitter with pop is so important for their lineup. With the Indians looking to move Francisco Lindor this offseason, the Yankees could make a splash for him. If they do that, they could possibly let LeMahieu walk and slide Gleyber Torres back to second.
A reunion could be in order for the Cubs, after they basically gave up on him in 2012. They need consistency and balance in their lineup which is currently power-heavy like the Yankees. The Cubs have question marks at the future of their infield positions and will likely need to say goodbye to one of Kris Bryant and Javier Baez. They also don’t have a set second baseman and LeMahieu would give them stability. They will probably look to move Bryant which would open up money to sign him.
Oakland Athletics, Toronto Blue Jays, New York Mets
All three of these teams are in need of infield help. The Athletics are the least likely as his price is probably out of their range. But with Tommy La Stella leaving for free agency, they will need a replacement. The Mets are a wild card of sorts with Steve Cohen becoming their new owner and could get into a bidding war with their crosstown counterpart (sorry I will not call them rivals). They would have to find a way to get out from under the Robinson Cano contract in order to make the move, however. The Blue Jays would be able to slot him anywhere, but he would be likely to mainly play third with Vladimir Guerrero Jr. being moved to first base/designated hitter.
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