Looking At: Other DJ LeMahieu Rumored Suitors
It’s not even Thanksgiving and we’ve rightfully thought of every way the Yankees should handle bringing back (or letting go of) DJ LeMahieu. Today, we figured we’d look at what some of the other 29 MLB teams are thinking about with him and how he’d fit:
The New York Mets:
Second Base Availability: Technically, yes. Technically, no.
After the recent news about Robinson Cano’s second PED-related suspension, it not only means that the New York Mets will be without their 2019-2020 second baseman, but they also have an extra $24 Million off the books to spend. This pairs extremely well with new owner Steve Cohen’s words about how they need to build a strong farm system, thus signaling he’s going to have to acquire talent in free agency. The Mets under the Wilpon’s and BVW had recently seen some horrible trades (see: The Edwin Diaz/Robinson Cano trade) that sent away the current 9th best MLB prospect in Jered Kelenic (OF). A signal to develop prospects would be a nice change of pace.
So, if they’ll look to grab players via free agency, there is a framework for a great sports story here. Everybody knows that the Mets have always been the “little brother” the to Yankees. Occasionally they’ll impress and have some allure, but at the end of the day the Yankees are New York’s #1 Team. But, what if they lose their best player over the past two seasons to the hometown rival? That’d be a heck of a way to make an introduction as a new owner trying to claim a cities fandom.
However, it doesn’t seem like DJ is the best fit for the Mets. Even if DJ would help fix a left-handed heavy line-up and slot in for the now absent Robinson Cano. Instead, the Mets could move Jeff McNeil back to the infield- where he is better defensively- and go after a different righty in George Springer to fill the open outfield spot. It is also highly expected that the Mets will be the ones to bring in catcher J.T. Realmuto, another righty, as well. As rich as Steve Cohen is, it’s unlikely he’d be able to work deals to grab 3 of the top free agents this year and it could come down to a Springer vs. LeMahieu option for them.
The Washington Nationals:
Second Base Availability: Maybe not necessary?
Sticking in the NL East brings up an extremely interesting team. The 2019 World Series Champions and the 2020 team that finished with 3rd worst record in the National League. Truly the shortened season did them in. (Interestingly, in both seasons they had a record of 19-31.) They are a team that has been willing to spend big in free agency with pitching in Max Scherzer and Patrick Corbin…maybe a bat would help?
In 2020, the Nationals main second baseman was 20-year-old Luis Garcia who played 40 games while hitting .276/.302/.366 towards a 78 OPS+. However, it was his first MLB stint and he was a Top-100 prospect going into the season by Baseball America and MLB.com. It wouldn’t be normal to see a team give up on such a young player so quickly.
But, some teams aren’t only thinking of DJ as a second baseman and while it’d break the same logic, the Nationals 2020 third baseman was 22-year-old Carter Kieboom, who played 33 games while hitting .202/.344/.212 to a 54 OPS+. He was as high as the 11th best 2020 prospect by Baseball Prospectus and only as low as #21 by MLB.com (while Baseball America had him at #15).
And yet, there may be some who want DJ LeMahieu to play 1B as well, where he could replace 2020 Nationals first baseman, the 33-year-old Eric Thames who hit .203/.300/.317 to a 65 OPS+ in 41 games. For him, it looks as though the post-KBO magic is gone.
The Nationals are in a tough spot as they have some top talent in the game, but in a short stint haven’t seen the results. I don’t think it would make sense to give up on Garcia or Kieboom…but, bringing in a player like DJ LeMahieu- who missed out on 2 years ago as well– would go a long way to provide stability at either of those positions if the prospect needs more time and/or doesn’t pan out. But, even if they do, a spot at 1st could also be open. The only concern would be if DJ would want to sign to a team not willing to give him a set position.
The Toronto Blue Jays:
Second Base Availability: Potentially open
Speaking of another team that had high interest in DJ LeMahieu back in 2018, we have to go north of the border. Now, the Toronto Blue Jays may seem like another odd team to consider for a second base free agent. With a young core of Vlad Guerrero Jr. at First, Cavan Biggio at Second, and Bo Bichette at Shortstop, it seems like DJ wouldn’t have a spot. Even if they traded for Francisco Lindor (which is a possibility) with Biggio or Bichette, that also wouldn’t open up a spot for DJ. But, there are options here.
Instead of dismantling their young core with a trade, the Blue Jays could move away from third baseman Travis Shaw. Shaw, who hit .239/.306/.411 to a 95 OPS+, was their worst (non-catcher) hitter last season. While it would seem odd to sign DJ to play third base, the Blue Jays could also instead move Cavan Biggio to third to open up the middle infield spot. To me, however, this doesn’t seem like a reasonable move. (Another option would be for Guerrero to become a full time DH as DJ plays 1B, but I also don’t see that happening either. What team would put a 22 year old as a full time DH?)
The big place to focus for the Blue Jays should be their rotation and bullpen. The lineup was perfectly fine if the worst (non-catcher) hitter on the team had a 95 OPS+ while everybody else was at 114 or above. They did already sign Robbie Ray to a 1-Year/$8 million deal, but they need more help than that. To note, however, is that MLBTR does predict that DJ will end up in Toronto on a 4-Year/$68 Million deal.
Quick Notes on Some Other Teams With Some Interest:
The Los Angeles Dodgers:
Now that they won a World Series title, they are going to want to defend it at all costs. However, with Gavin Lux slotted in as their second baseman the Dodgers would have to deal the young promising star who hasn’t seen MLB success yet. It also has been just 42 total games over 2019 and 2020, so I would wager the Dodgers are looking elsewhere to spend money. Chances are that they’ll bring back Justin Turner for third base too, so DJ doesn’t seem like a true fit.
The Los Angeles Angels:
I have seen the Angels linked to DJ LeMahieu as an interesting piece to help add to a line-up with Mike Trout, Anthony Rendon, and Shohei Ohtani. With the potential loss of Tommy LaStella and Andrelton Simmons there are middle infield openings too for DJ to fit. However, their new GM Perry Minasian has stated a focus on bringing in pitching this offseason. Would it surprise me to see DJ end up in the LA Red? No, but I think other teams are pining for him more.
The Colorado Rockies:
The Rockies have also been occasionally mentioned as suitors for DJ LeMahieu, bringing the new star to his roots. (Although technically that would be with the Chicago Cubs.) If the Rockies are looking to trade away Nolan Arenado and they find a deal that fits, there could be some budget space for LeMahieu. However, the Rockies find themselves in a hard spot to truly entice a star player who will have other options on World Series contending teams. A reunion would be interesting, but definitely the most unlikely scenario on this list.
Article By: Ethan Semendinger
Date Published: November 23rd, 2020