In the words of Lil’ Wayne, Go D-J, that’s my D-J.
The stand-off is over. After months of silence, one of baseball’s premier free agents is off the market. According to multiple reports, star second baseman DJ LeMahieu is returning to the New York Yankees on a six-year/$90-million deal.
Jon Morosi gave Yankee fans an early morning present on Friday when he reported at 6 AM that New York was finalizing a deal with the 32-year-old star. A flurry of rumors circulated about the terms of the deal, with some claiming something in the five-year, $110-million range, but Jeff Passan confirmed the deal was for six years/$90M.
I’ll admit it: I was skeptical of the bringing back DJ. With reports that the Yankees want to cut salary, I looked into if there were other, better avenues for the team to pursue. But, when the final terms of the deal were released, I breathed a sigh of relief. There’s a lot of risk in giving LeMahieu six-years, which will take him through his age-37 season, but the $15M AAV is an absolute steal for a player of his caliber.
When the Yankees brought in DJ almost exactly two years ago, his role was as a backup utility infielder for Troy Tulowitzki. Yes, Troy Tulowitzki. Luckily for the Yankees, injuries forced DJ’s role to grow quickly, and he made the most of his opportunities. Over the past two seasons, LeMahieu has led all second basemen in fWAR (7.8), wRC+ (146), wOBA (.388), AVG (.354), OBP (.386), OPS (.922) and Contact% (86.6%), and has second in SLG (.536), SwSrt% (6.1%), and K% (12.7%). LeMahieu’s shortened-2020 finished with him as an MVP candidate, and the only player in the Statcast Era with a better Contact% and average exit velocity than LeMahieu in 2019 is Mookie Betts in 2018.
The terms of the deal are a win-win for both sides. LeMahieu gets the stability that a 32-year-old who only has three really good seasons at the plate would want, while the Yankees take a bit of a risk with the years but give themselves the flexibility to continue improving the team with the low AAV. Reports have already circulated that the Yankees have interest in Corey Kluber and improving the rotation – which is a must for the team. Regardless, DJ LeMahieu will most likely be a Yankee for the remainder of his career – and fans should be ecstatic.
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