Posted on January 11, 2019, by Bryan Zarpentine
If nothing else, the New York Yankees aren’t going to be short-handed on the infield this season. On Friday, the Bronx Bombers added to an already impressive set of infielders by agreeing to terms with free agent second baseman D.J. LeMahieu. The deal is reportedly worth $24 million over two seasons, putting LeMahieu in pinstripes through the 2020 season.
The 30-year old LeMahieu was one of the best second basemen on the market this winter. He’s a two-time all-star and three-time Gold Glove winner, including the past two seasons. LeMahieu also won the National League Batting Title in 2016 after hitting .348. Of course, he’s had the benefit of playing half his games at Coors Field as a member of the Rockies for most of his career. However, LeMahieu is still one of the most consistent and accomplished second basemen in the game.
While there’s little doubt that LeMahieu is a strong signing for the Yankees, it’s still unclear how he fits into their plans. He’s spent little time playing anywhere other than second base, a position occupied in New York by Gleyber Torres. With Didi Gregorius set to miss at least the first half of next season because of Tommy John surgery, the Yankees could easily slide Torres to shortstop. That would open up second base for LeMahieu, at least until Gregorius is set to return.
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It’s also worth mentioning that the Yankees recently signed Troy Tulowitzki, a longtime teammate of LeMahieu’s in Colorado. Tulowitzki is by no means guaranteed a spot if he isn’t producing. However, the Yankees clearly signed him to potentially serve as a placeholder for Gregorius or a reserve infielder. Of course, LeMahieu could also be in line to serve as a roving infielder once Gregorius returns.
One more possibility is that signing LeMahieu is a precursor to trading third baseman Miguel Andujar. Short of actually shopping the young third baseman, the Yankees do appear open to trading Andujar. With both LeMahieu and Tulowitzki added to the mix, it would be a little easier for the Yankees to get by until Gregorius returns if they were to move Andujar.
Ultimately, time will tell how the Yankees plan to utilize LeMahieu and the rest of their infielders. However, this signing is also a sign that the Yankees are not serious contenders to sign Manny Machado. The Yankees have long been among the most likely destinations for Machado. In fact, many believe that Machado prefers the Yankees to other options. However, signing both Tulowitzki and LeMahieu is a good indication that the Yankees aren’t planning on making Machado a serious offer.
However the Yankees end up using him, LeMahieu is certainly a positive signing. His contact-oriented approach should be a good complement to the power hitters that make up the rest of the team’s lineup. LeMahieu is also as reliable as they get with the glove. No matter what position he plays or how much he plays, LeMahieu should have a positive impact on the Yankees in 2019.