If DJ LeMahieu takes his talents elsewhere this Winter, who are some other infielder free agents the New York Yankees can turn to?
At the moment, the Yankees are riding high, and, quite frankly, have bigger fish to fry then the issue’s I’m about to discuss. After winning their fifth straight game this afternoon and sweeping the Baltimore Orioles in a four-game set, the Bombers are trying to gain ground on rival ballclubs in the Toronto Blue Jays and Tampa Bay Rays, which would increase their seeding for the postseason. Having said that, it’s never too early to look to the future, and with DJ LeMahieu soon to be a free agent following this season, that’s what we’re gonna do.
Of course, it’s completely a realistic (some may even say likely) possibility that LeMaheiu re-ups with the Yanks this offseason. For the sake of hypotheticals, however, we’ll say that the All-Star second baseman takes his talents somewhere else. Thankfully, there are always options on the free-agent market, and we’ll be looking at a couple of potential replacements here.
The Yankees once had interest in the slick-fielding shortstop a while back when he played for the Atlanta Braves. Since then, he’s further cemented himself as one of if not the top defensive infielders in the sport. Since 2017, Simmons has a total of 75 DRS (defensive runs saved). His UZR (ultimate zone rating) has been 17.5, 19.7, and 10.4 in 2017, 2018, and 2019. Although his defensive production took a small step back in ’19, few would argue he’s still not one of the most sure-handed fielders in the sport. He has taken home gold gloves in both ’17 and ’18, and is a five-time Wilson Defensive Player of the Year award winner, winning three straight titles from ’17-’19.
The negative about Simmons is as good as a fielder he may be, he’s not going to blow the competition away on offense. That’s not to say he’s necessarily dreadful offensively, rather, he’s nowhere near the production of DJ LeMahieu. In 103 games in 2019, Simmons hit .264 with a .309 OBP. He also had seven home runs and drove in 40. His analytical numbers tell an even worse story, as he only spotted an 81 wRC+ and an even worse .290wOBA. Despite the subpar offensive production, what Simmons does defensively makes up for what he does on offense, and although he may not be nearly as productive as LeMahieu, he’s far better than any in-house alternatives. If the Yankees were to hypothetically ink Simmons, I would assume Gleyber Torres is likely to get shifted back over to second base.