DJ LeMahieu is largely considered the most valuable position player in this free agent market. JT Realmuto is a close second. But the one time Rockie is coming off two seasons with the Yankees that saw him finish 4th and 3rd in MVP voting.
Sadly for LeMahieu, he’s in one of the least competitive MLB free agent markets ever. Normally the 6’4″ right hander would have teams tripping over each other to overpay a player like this. But 2020 is one of a kind. So here’s everything we know about the elite infielder and his market.
- Minor League/Prospect Years
- MLB Career
- Teams Interested
- Our Offer
DJ was drafted by the Cubs in the second round of 2009 with the 79th overall pick. He was the top high school prospect in his home state of Michigan.
He was never a power hitter despite his large frame, but he shot his way through the minors with his contact skills and exceptional defense. In his rookie 2009 season he slashed .323/.376/.384. He regressed by .028 in his OPS in 2010, and went up .017 in 2011.
He showed the consistency of a .300 hitter before the OBP, moneyball craze was in full effect. It was enough for a September call up in 2011. The Rockies traded for him in an underwhelming move at the time.
They would bounce him back in forth between the majors and the minors for 2 years, but Lemahieu had enough by 2013. He slashed a monster .364/.405/.510 in AAA and hasn’t seen a minor league at bat since.
Overall, DJ ended his minor league career with a career line of .321/.361/.409. He stole 48 bases and got caught 25 times. He hit 72 doubles, 18 triples, and 9 homers.
LeMahieu will be entering his 11th major league season this upcoming year, and the no name prospect has had quite the illustrious career so far.
He has 3 gold gloves, 3 all star selections, 2 silver sluggers, and 3 years finishing among the top MVP vote getters. (15th, 4th, and 3rd). He’s lead both the NL and AL in batting average now. Last year he lead the AL in batting average, on base, OPS, and OPS+.
None of those accolades coming before his age 25 season in 2014. And closer inspection says DJ is still in his prime. If anything, he is still trending up.
He was long considered a by product of the Coors effect, but LeMahieu has actually been better since he left. His career line at Coors was .299/.352/.408. An OPS+ of only 93, or 7% below average. He had double digit homers twice (11 and 15) out of his 7 years with the Rockies. (And they were 2 of his last 3 years with the club)
His two years in New York have been an entirely different hitter. He’s slashed .336/.386/.536. His OPS+ improved to 145. He’s even 8 for 10 on stolen bases
The 6’4″, 220 pound infielder finally found some of the power he was always missing. He hit 36 homers in 2 years with the Yanks, compared to 49 in 7 years with the Rockies.
He’s compiled 8.7 WAR in his last 195 games. With the Rocks it was 16.1 in 918 games. 19.7 WAR (out of 24.6) has come from his last 5 seasons alone.
And even though 2020 was shortened, there’s no denying that his .364/.421/.590 line was well deserved and in line with what he’s done in the recent past. Even at 32, LeMahieu can be instrumental to any future contender.
Which means, basically every contender hopes to be in on a LeMahieu. But here are the top teams linked to the Free Agent.
I mean why else would we be writing this, but this would make a lot of sense. The Dodgers have possibly the most financial flexibility in all of baseball this year. They can afford his $100+ million dollar price tag. (Or $20+ million a year)
MLB announced that teams need to plan for the DH to go back to AL only, which means Turner loses a lot of his value to the Dodgers. A right handed bat that can play 3rd base is their biggest need as of now.
After DJ, the market for that gets very shallow among free agents. Losing out on LeMahieu may force them towards a trade versus a free agent.
If they don’t sign LeMahieu and do go after free agents still, watch for names like Hander Alberto, Asdrubal Cabrera, Charlie Culberson, Brandon Drury, Todd Fraizer, or Maikel Franco (He’s where we would put our money)
The Yankees said that a reunion with LeMahieu was their top priority of the offseason, but more recent rumors say that the Yankees appear to be standing put on whatever offer they have made.
It seems that DJ may have the choice of staying a Yankee, or more money somewhere else right now. Even still, we would never count out the Bronx Bombers from bringing back their MVP.
Steve Cohen and the Mets have tried to temper expectations for fans, clearly stating they are focused on truly rebuilding the franchise. However, fans seem to expect them to sign just about every major free agent and win a World Series next year. Oh yeah, and the Cano money got freed up.
Still, just because the Mets aren’t signing all of the Top Guys, they still want one of the top guys. Syndengarrd should be back behind DeGrom, and the Mets were a top 5 offense with the guys they already have.
Still, they just couldn’t find the consistency that LeMahieu would bring to the center of their lineup. If they sign LeMahieu, don’t expect another big signing. If they sign someone like Trevor Bauer, don’t expect DJ to move in state.
- Blue Jays
This is probably the most intriguing option. The Blue Jays showed that their willing to spend last year when they signed Cy Young Finalist Ryu.
They’ve already added Robbie Ray to their rotation as their 5th starter. Their core is insanely young and cheap with Guerrero Jr, Biggio, Bichette, Gurriel Jr., Teoscar, and budding ace, Nate Pearson. An expensive contract is ok, as long as the money is cleared up in time to extend some of the players above.
We have our doubts still considering the infield is relatively crowded and the pen has been depleted. They have the star power they need. Now it’s about going 40 players deep. We expect the Blue Jays to be one of the main scavengers at the end of the offseason, looking for the best value pieces.
We see LeMahieu signing for anywhere from 3 to 5 years. On the low end of years we expect a higher AVV somewhere between $25 to $30 million. At 5 years we see LeMahieu signing for $120 million at most. Teams like the Dodgers and Blue Jays may be interested in the short term deal vs the Yanks and Mets would probably offer the 5 years.