With DJ LeMahieu‘s contract set to expire this winter, the New York Yankees need to make a strong effort to bring back their all-star second baseman.
Last January, the New York Yankees made a move that was looked upon as very subtle at the time, signing second baseman DJ LeMahieu to a two-year, $24 million deal. Now, as baseball fans anxiously wait for the baseball season to be confirmed (or canceled), LeMahieu is set to hit the open market this November. Having said this, the Bombers would be making a huge mistake allowing their all-star second baseman to suit up for another team in 2021 and beyond.
In case you forget how good exactly LeMahieu’s 2019 campaign was, allow me to refresh your memory. After spending seven seasons with the Colorado Rockies, LeMahieu hit a whopping .327 with a .375 on-base percentage for the Yankees. He set a career-high in homers and RBI with 26 and 102, respectively, and finished fourth in American League MVP voting.
One thing many Yankee fans are fond of when talking about LeMahieu is his ability to perform in the clutch. LeMahieu’s stellar .389 average and .438 on-base percentage was a main factor as to why the leadoff hitter led the team in RBI. If you’re into analytics and want to look at LeMahieu’s advanced numbers, those are very good, too, centered around a 5.4 fWAR and a 136 wRC+.
Why Should the Yankees Re-Sign Him?
Upon signing LeMahieu, many people were concerned regarding his ability to hit outside of the hitter-friendly Coors Field, and rightfully so. LeMahieu’s home and away splits were drastic in 2018, as he hit .317 at home and just .229 outside of Colorado, with an alarmingly low .277 on-base percentage. 2019 put those fears to rest, though, as LeMahieu hit .338 at Yankee Stadium and .318 on the road, proving the splits to be far more even than previously presented while in Colorado.
The point being, LeMahieu has not only proven that he can hit outside of Colorado, but he’s also proven he can perform on arguably the biggest stage in baseball — New York City. Performing under pressure is in his veins, just look at his numbers with runners in scoring position.
Another main reason the Yankees should re-sign Lemahieu is in the best interest of prized young shortstop Gleyber Torres. Torres, 23, had a career year last year, blasting 38 home runs and primarily playing second for the Yankees while LeMahieu bounced around the infield. With former shortstop Didi Gregorius now in Philadelphia, it appears that the Yankees plan for Torres to be the shortstop of the future. If LeMahieu leaves in the offseason, this would leave the Yankees one man down, possibly forcing them to move Torres back to second base. Unless the Yankees want to be left scrambling for an answer to their middle infield, they should absolutely do everything in their power to keep the infield just the way it is.
There’s no telling what LeMahieu will get this offseason, but considering he’s already 31 years old, any contract would probably hover around four years in length. With starting pitchers Masahiro Tanaka and James Paxton also set to become free agents following the end of this season, the Yankees have some tough decisions to make. It’ll be interesting to see what the Yankees do with their stars set to hit the open market when winter rolls around.