D.J. LeMahieu is one of the best pure hitters in baseball right now. After two fantastic years in pinstripes, his contract is up, and he is on the free agency market. LeMahieu’s contact expiring immediately makes him the most valuable MLB free agent available. The 2020 batting title winner would be a great addition to almost any team in the league. LeMahieu is in the middle of his prime and may only have a few more years of dominance left. It is important for the 32-year-old to join a contender, as he may be able to push them over the top. Although I think the Silver Slugger should stay where he is in New York, there are many reasons he could join other teams in just a few short weeks.
A Perfect Addition
Although an ace like Trevor Bauer would be helpful to any team, LeMahieu’s versatility is what makes him so valuable. The 3-time Gold Glove winner can play anywhere in the infield except shortstop but is most viable at second base. The Yankees used LeMahieu almost primarily at second base, but he played first base in late game scenarios. Not only was DJ a playable option at each position, he was above average. His 3 Gold Gloves came when he was featured at 2nd base, which is where he dominated most. However, his stints at first and third were successful, where he saved more defensive runs than he lost. His defensive ability alone makes him a flexible signing for any team in need of an infielder. Yet, it’s his offensive ability that makes him the most valuable MLB free agent.
LeMahieu was arguably the best pure hitter in the American League last season, flirting with a .400 average at times. He led the AL in OPS and used his all-field hitting approach to win the batting title, his second. (DJ Stats) DJ’s combination of defense mixed with hitting allowed him to finish as the fourth most valuable player in the league according to WAR, tying with National League MVP Freddie Freeman. Although Abreu ended up taking the AL MVP, LeMahieu might just be the frontrunner for 2021. The utility infielder would be able to fit in any position in the lineup and can benefit any team with that versatility. However, there are five teams that LeMahieu will fit with better than any other. Where will the most valuable MLB free agent land?
Here’s the favorite, in my opinion, LeMahieu will stay in the Bronx. The Yankees need to be willing to extend a bigger paycheck to the superstar, although he does want to stay. (Empire Sports Media) Surprisingly, the Yankees’ first qualifying offer was declined by the second baseman (Bleacher Report), so they will have to up the ante. New York will move on from Jacoby Ellsbury’s hefty $21 million dollar contract, and so they will have space to offer LeMahieu the long-term contract he desires. Expect DJ to stay in pinstripes, although his services are wanted by many other teams.
Robinson Cano’s recent suspension has put a damper on the announcement of Steve Cohen buying the club. Cano was one of the top hitters on the team last season and losing him in the middle of the order will hurt. LeMahieu is one of the few that will be able to improve on Cano’s spot in the order. New owner Steve Cohen is expected to make a few splashes in free agency, as he wants NY in contention. J.T. Realmuto is another possible signing, but Cano’s loss will make a second baseman an essential signing in NYC. Losing Cano will open cap space to make a run at the MVP finalist.
Consistent hitting was a major problem last season for the 2019 World Series winners. Juan Soto and Trea Turner were really the only two hitters that consistently hit above average. Although the Nationals recently extended Starlin Castro’s contract, LeMahieu’s versatility allows him to still benefit the Nats in the infield. Extreme holes at first and third base would allow him to slide right in and hit right away. The possible departures of Sean Doolittle and Adam Eaton will clear up money, and Washington can target the infielder. The Nationals may be one or two decent offensive pieces away from contending again, and LeMahieu could instantly help that.
One of the most exciting teams in baseball could extremely benefit from the most valuable free agent. Their already explosive offense would tear up opposing pitchers with the addition of LeMahieu. The 32-year-old will add a veteran’s presence to the locker room. With a team full of so many young players, Toronto should have the cap space to add the second baseman. Although they currently have Cavan Biggio starring at second base, Biggio or DJ could slide to third just fine. The Blue Jays are more likely to target pitching this offseason, so LeMahieu may be out of the question. Yet, adding the OBP leader will give Toronto the most firepower of any team in baseball.
The Red Sox dealt with the injury bug heavily in 2020. If David Price and Chris Sale can return to form, Boston’s pitching will steadily improve. In my opinion, this is the least likely scenario of the four teams above, but it could happen. The Red Sox are more in need of bullpen pitching, and will also look to resign Jackie Bradley Jr. There should be some available money to go after LeMahieu, however, as there is a hole at second base. The last place AL East finishers could see a dramatic rise if their pitching improves but can contend in 2020 if they can make a big MLB free agent signing. Despite finishing last, Boston is not in rebuild mode, and they need to make a run.
With the constant rumors floating around the baseball world about free agency signings, it will be interesting to see where LeMahieu ends up. Here at NoLimitJumper we are highlighting the biggest names in the MLB, NFL, and NBA free agency. If you want to look at some of my other analyses, click this link here. You can also contact me on my Instagram page.