DJ LeMahieu was a big free agent signing for the Yankees this offseason. How did they get him?
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The Yankees’ decision to sign DJ LeMahieu to a two-year, $24 million deal in January was met with a lot of confusion. After all, the team already had an All-Star second baseman in Gleyber Torres, and LeMahieu is a career .276/.321/.428 hitter who will turn 32 before the 2020 season begins.
There’s no doubt that LeMahieu is a good player, but he’s not the kind of player that usually commands such a high price tag on the open market. So how did the Yankees end up signing him to such a large contract?
The answer, as is often the case in baseball, has a lot to do with timing.
The Yankees’ Strategy
The Yankees have always been one of the most successful teams in baseball, and they continue to find new ways to improve. One of their latest acquisitions is DJ LeMahieu, who they signed to a two-year, $24 million contract. So, how did they get him?
The Yankees’ Need for a Second Baseman
The Yankees have been without a reliable second baseman since the retirement of Robinson Cano in 2018. In 2019, they tried to fill the position with DJ LeMahieu, who had primarily played first base and third base throughout his career. While LeMahieu is a very good player, he is not a great second baseman, and the Yankees struggled defensively at the position as a result.
In 2020, the Yankees made a trade for Domingo German, who is a much better defensive second baseman. German is also a very good hitter, and he should be able to provide some much-needed stability at the position for the Yankees.
The Yankees’ Previous Attempts to Find a Second Baseman
The Yankees have been in search of a long-term second baseman since Robinson Cano left for the Seattle Mariners following the 2013 season. They thought they had found their guy when they acquired Starlin Castro from the Chicago Cubs prior to the 2016 season. However, Castro was traded to the Miami Marlins after just one season with the Yankees. The Yankees then turned to free agency to fill their second base void, signing Neil Walker prior to the 2018 season. Walker was decent in his one year with the team, but he was definitely not the long-term answer the Yankees were looking for. So, after yet another failed attempt to find a second baseman, the Yankees once again turned to free agency, signing DJ LeMahieu prior to the 2019 season.
The Yankees’ Offseason Moves
The Yankees’ offseason moves have been criticized by some, but the team is clearly in win-now mode. The Bombers made a big splash by signing free agent Gerrit Cole to a nine-year, $324 million contract. They also acquired starting pitcher James Paxton from the Seattle Mariners in a trade. In addition, the Yankees re-signed infielder DJ LeMahieu to a two-year, $24 million deal.
The Cole signing was clearly the biggest move of the offseason for the Yankees. Cole is one of the best pitchers in baseball and should immediately bolster the team’s rotation. ThePaxton trade was also a solid move, as he gives the Yankees another quality arm to help them contend for a championship.
Re-signing LeMahieu was also important for the Yankees. LeMahieu is a two-time All-Star and won a Gold Glove Award in 2018. He provides quality defense at first base and can also play second base and third base. In addition, LeMahieu is a quality hitter who batted .327 with 26 home runs and 102 RBI last season. He gives the Yankees another key piece to help them win now.
DJ LeMahieu’s Career
The Yankees got DJ LeMahieu in a trade with the Colorado Rockies in 2018. LeMahieu is a three-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove winner. He won the National League batting title in 2016 and led the American League in hits in 2017. LeMahieu is a career .299 hitter with 1,011 hits.
DJ LeMahieu’s Early Career
DJ LeMahieu was born in 1992 in Visalia, California, and grew up playing baseball and hockey. He was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in 2009, but did not sign with them. Instead, he attended Louisiana State University (LSU), where he played baseball for the Tigers. In 2011, he was once again drafted – this time by the Colorado Rockies – and he chose to sign with them.
He made his Major League debut with the Rockies in 2012, and played for them until 2018. In 2019, he signed with the New York Yankees, where he currently plays second base. Over the course of his career, LeMahieu has won several awards, including three Gold Glove Awards (in 2015, 2017, and 2018) and two Silver Slugger Awards (in 2016 and 2017).
DJ LeMahieu’s Time with the Rockies
DJ LeMahieu was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the second round of the 2009 MLB Draft out of LSU. He made his MLB debut with the Cubs in 2011, but was traded to the Colorado Rockies after only two seasons. It was with the Rockies that LeMahieu truly found his groove, becoming a two-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glove winner while establishing himself as one of the best hitters in baseball.
LeMahieu won the National League batting title in 2016 with a .348 average, and he followed that up by hitting .310 in 2017. He was once again among the league leaders in 2018, hitting .276 with 15 homers and 62 RBI. After another strong season in 2019, LeMahieu became a free agent and signed with the New York Yankees.
DJ LeMahieu’s Time with the Yankees
From 2016 to 2019, LeMahieu was a consistency force in the Yankees lineup, starting no fewer than 145 games in any of his first three seasons in pinstripes. He slashed .276/.321/.428 with 36 home runs and194 RBI over that span while playing excellent defense at both second and third base. In 2018, he finished second in AL MVP voting after hitting .276/.321/.428 with 26 homers and 102 RBI.
The New York Yankees acquired infielder DJ LeMahieu in a trade with the Colorado Rockies in July 2018. The Yankees gave up Minor League pitcher Phillip Diehl in the deal.
LeMahieu was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in 2009 and made his Major League debut with the team in 2011. He was traded to the Rockies in 2012.
LeMahieu is a two-time All-Star and won the National League batting title in 2016. He is a career .298 hitter with 62 home runs and 360 RBIs.