Following two superstar seasons with the Yankees — capped by a second MLB batting crown this season —
Below is a list of the latest news and rumors surrounding the 32-year-old second baseman, who turned down New York’s
Report: LeMahieu ‘dismayed’ at Yanks’ slow pace, is engaging with other clubs
Jan. 10: He was the most valuable Yankee in each of his two seasons in their pinstripes. And now that he’s into his third month as a free agent and the club with which he’s stated he prefers to stay is “slow-playing” his market, LeMahieu is “dismayed” and has told his agent to engage with other clubs, according to Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports.
“Teams that have engaged with the LeMahieu camp say LeMahieu expects more than Josh Donaldson’s four-year, $92 million deal with the Minnesota Twins and at least on par with J.D. Martinez’s five years and $110 million with the Boston Red Sox,” Brown writes. “The Yankees, LeMahieu’s preferred club after two successful seasons in the Bronx, have not met those terms.”
The Yankees lost a potential backup plan for LeMahieu when the Mets acquired Francisco Lindor in a blockbuster trade on Thursday, but the team doesn’t appear to be operating with a greater sense of urgency in its pursuit of the free-agent second baseman. So according to Brown, he’s looking to other clubs who have shown interest, including the Blue Jays, Dodgers and those very same Mets. Brown’s source also told him LeMahieu expects to meet with several clubs virtually over the next week.
According to a report from Dan Martin of the New York Post, the Yankees’ timeline regarding LeMahieu hasn’t changed. The two sides still aren’t close to a deal, though New York continues to have optimism it will find common ground with the 32-year-old. It’s unclear if they’ve made any progress since mid-December, when multiple reports put them at least $25 million apart.
MLB Network Insider Jon Heyman noted that while the Yankees are willing to extend LeMahieu a four-year contract, money remains the sticking point between the two. Still, Heyman believes that it would qualify as “a surprise” if LeMahieu departs for another club.
LeMahieu isn’t the only top free agent who remains unsigned. Trevor Bauer, George Springer, J.T. Realmuto, Liam Hendriks, Marcell Ozuna, Michael Brantley, Nelson Cruz, Masahiro Tanaka, Corey Kluber and James Paxton are still available as well, with many teams reluctant to spend after the pandemic-shortened 2020 season.
If LeMahieu ends up elsewhere, the Yankees could opt to move Gleyber Torres back to second base and look for a shortstop instead. While Lindor is no longer an option, Didi Gregorius, Andrelton Simmons and Marcus Semien are free agents. Rockies shortstop Trevor Story, a free agent next offseason, could be available in a trade.
For now, though, the Yankees’ priority remains LeMahieu.
Lindor trade could help LeMahieu’s market
Jan. 7: According to MLB Network insider Joel Sherman, the Yankees checked in with the Indians about Francisco Lindor before the superstar shortstop was traded to the Mets along with right-hander Carlos Carrasco on Thursday. However, it was only as a potential backup plan for their primary target, LeMahieu.
Per Sherman, the Yankees have remained committed to seeing their pursuit of LeMahieu through to the end.
#Yankees inquired with the #Indians on the price for Lindor as a backup plan if they did not sign LeMahieu, but have remained committed to seeing it thru with LeMahieu even as other options — such as Lindor — come off the board.
— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) January 7, 2021
MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand thinks the trade could have a positive impact on LeMahieu’s market, as it may cause the Yankees and Blue Jays to ramp up efforts to sign the infielder, with Lindor no longer available.
LeMahieu is Dodgers’ top external 3B option
Jan. 4: LeMahieu is the Dodgers’ top external option at third base if they’re unable to re-sign Justin Turner, according to a report from the Los Angeles Times’ Jorge Castillo on Monday.
Turner wants a four-year deal, but the Dodgers don’t want to give the 36-year-old longer than a two-year deal, per the report. That could force L.A. to acquire a third baseman from outside the organization. LeMahieu, thanks to his versatility in the infield, could take over the third-base role for the Dodgers.
Castillo points out one drawback of signing LeMahieu is that his contract would likely push the Dodgers over the competitive balance tax threshold for 2021, and that the Dodgers face strong competition to sign LeMahieu from teams like the Yankees and Blue Jays. He also notes the Dodgers could trade for a third baseman like the Cubs’ Kris Bryant or the Reds’ Eugenio Suárez instead.
Still, he writes, LeMahieu “sits atop the list of external options.”
Morosi: Dodgers still involved in LeMahieu sweepstakes
Jan. 2: There has been some thought that LeMahieu’s free agency could come down to an all-New York bidding war between the Yankees and Mets, but don’t sleep on the Dodgers making this a bicoastal affair.
A source told MLB.com’s Jon Paul Morosi that the defending World Series champions “have continued to show interest” in LeMahieu, giving the free-agent infielder a field potentially made up of some of the deepest-pocketed clubs to choose from. The Blue Jays, thought to have one of largest available spending pools for this year’s Hot Stove, have also been linked often to LeMahieu.
LeMahieu’s fit with the Dodgers could be largely determined by what the club does with two departed free agents of its own in third baseman Justin Turner and utility man Enrique Hernández, with indications that the latter could be moving on to another club. LeMahieu’s versatility would fit right into the current culture of the Dodgers’ roster, with positional flexibility already established by stars like Cody Bellinger, Max Muncy and Chris Taylor.
Is a Yanks-Mets battle brewing over LeMahieu?
Jan. 1: The Mets seem to be a “wild card” of sorts for every major free agent on the market this offseason given that new owner Steve Cohen has exuded the “money is no object” vibe since purchasing the club (and didn’t take a financial hit from the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign). One of those prized free agents is LeMahieu, who was a top-four finisher in AL MVP Award voting in both years he spent with the Yankees. Since both New York clubs are in the mix for him, could a local battle of sorts ensue over signing him?
Randy Miller of NJ.com thinks so, writing that “it wouldn’t be surprising if [the Mets] turned their attention to LeMahieu and stole him from the Yankees. Such a signing could be the start of a New York baseball turf war to the likes we’ve never seen before.”
“Battle of the Boroughs?” “Subway Standoff?” Time will tell.
LeMahieu ‘exactly what the Yankees need’
Jan. 1: It shouldn’t be too complicated for the Yankees — they need to bring back LeMahieu, according to former big leaguer Steve Sax.
Sax, a second baseman like LeMahieu, said Friday on MLB Network radio that LeMahieu is “exactly what the Yankees need.”
“Take care of the guys that were good to you, take care of the guys that are a sure bet, and don’t try to pass those guys off and be too smart about the deal,” Sax said. “My gosh, what does he have to do or prove?”
— MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM (@MLBNetworkRadio) January 1, 2021
Sax notes that LeMahieu’s elite contact-hitting ability makes him an especially essential player to the Yankees, who have a lot of high-home run but high-strikeout hitters. LeMahieu brings balance to the lineup. Sax even compares the way LeMahieu hits to players like Don Mattingly, Wade Boggs and Tony Gwynn.
“There’s something different about the way the ball comes off the bat, the approach to the baseball,” Sax said. “It’s different than other people.”
Will DJ be Dodgers’ counter to Padres?
Dec. 29: The Padres have boldly stated their commitment to chasing down the Dodgers in the National League West, agreeing to trades for top starting pitchers Yu Darvish and Blake Snell, while also agreeing to a deal with free-agent infielder Ha-seong Kim. So now the question becomes: What will the Dodgers do in response?
This is where LeMahieu could come into play. Speaking on MLB Network’s Hot Stove show on Tuesday morning, Dodgers reporter David Vassegh said that while president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman isn’t one to worry about a “counter-punch,” L.A. still could have a big move up its sleeve.
“Andrew did say at the beginning of the winter that he would like to add a right-handed bat, and from what I’m hearing, DJ LeMahieu is on their radar,” Vassegh said. “They are definitely in talks with LeMahieu.”
The free-agent infielder could fit at second base or third base with the Dodgers, and even play some first. Much would depend on what happens with two fellow free agents, third baseman Justin Turner and utilityman Enrique Hernández. Vassegh reported that the Dodgers “are allowing [Turner] to explore free agency,” and that it does not appear Hernández will return to the team, with the Blue Jays and Red Sox among those in pursuit of him.
If the Dodgers were to let both players leave, LeMahieu could play either second or third, with Max Muncy, Gavin Lux, Chris Taylor and Edwin Ríos also in the mix at those spots.
Who’s the better 3B option for Dodgers, Arenado or LeMahieu?
Dec. 26: With the Dodgers being connected to LeMahieu recently, the question arises: Since Justin Turner is also a free agent, which star would be the better third base option for Los Angeles, LeMahieu or his former Rockies teammate, Nolan Arenado? There has been a lot of buzz around the possibility of Arenado being traded to the defending World Series champions, which would send him near his Southern California home following eight seasons in Denver. The eight-time Gold Glove Award winner and three-time NL home run champion seems like a good fit, though he has nearly $200 million remaining on his contract, and can exercise an opt-out clause following the 2021 season. Could LeMahieu be a better option?
There are questions surrounding Arenado following a down year in 2020 (admittedly, it was only a 48-game sample) — he had a shoulder injury that impaired him at the plate, where he hit just .253/.303/.434 (84 OPS+). Will the shoulder continue to be a problem? Is age catching up with Arenado? Or will 2020 prove to be a blip on the radar for him? Enter LeMahieu, who is in the midst of the best stretch of his career, finishing third in AL MVP Award voting with the Yankees last season, after finishing fourth in 2019. He’s also versatile, able to play second base in addition to the hot corner. He’s a couple of years older than Arenado, though, entering his age-32 season. Then again, he’d be less expensive — LeMahieu is reportedly seeking a five-year, $125 million deal.
It’s an intriguing debate. If it comes down to these two options at third base, which might the Dodgers choose?
Is Yankees’ LeMahieu strategy working?
Dec. 27: The Yankees are waiting things out when it comes to offseason moves beyond the club’s stated top priority: signing DJ LeMahieu. And according to the New York Post’s Dan Martin, that strategy seems to be working out just fine so far, since most other teams are waiting to make moves as well.
“So while the Yankees and other big spenders wait to set the market on the most high-profile free agents — including LeMahieu, J.T. Realmuto, Trevor Bauer and George Springer — available players with lower price tags are left in limbo. … That could work to the Yankees’ advantage, as they are expected to stay under the $210 million luxury tax threshold in 2021 and figure to have roughly $30 million-$35 million to spend — including LeMahieu, or not.”
LeMahieu is reportedly looking for a contract in the neighborhood of five years and $125 million after finishing third in AL MVP Award voting in 2020 and fourth in ’19 for the Yankees. Martin notes that if LeMahieu does leave the Yankees, the club could pivot to the free-agent shortstop market, which hasn’t moved thus far either. Acquiring a shortstop would enable Gleyber Torres to move back to his natural position of second base.
Watch the Dodgers in Bauer, LeMahieu sweepstakes
Dec. 26: The Dodgers are in play for top free agents this offseason, including Trevor Bauer and DJ LeMahieu, according to MLB Network insider Joel Sherman. Sherman notes that Bauer’s previously-expressed desire for a short-term deal could fit the Dodgers well, as they’re unlikely to offer the longest contract with the most money. This also hinges on their willingness to exceed the luxury tax threshold yet again. LeMahieu’s suitors other than the Yankees are similar to Bauer’s: the Mets, Blue Jays, and, according to Sherman’s report, keep an eye on the Dodgers. LeMahieu could play third base if the team does not re-sign Justin Turner, or second base if Gavin Lux played a utility role. Sherman notes that for LeMahieu, the Dodgers offer a “professional, winning environment” similar to that with the Yankees, which he enjoyed in his time in New York.
Familiar infielder is best fit for Yankees
Dec. 26: MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince sums up the best fits for each remaining free agent from the top 25, doling out only one free agent per team. He says the Yankees are DJ LeMahieu’s best fit, noting that the infielder is one of the best free-agent position players available. He thrived during his time in New York, and “sometimes the simplest answer is the correct one,” Castrovince notes.
Best fits for LeMahieu? Not just NY
Dec 25: You might think LeMahieu staying in New York, whether by returning to the Yankees or jumping crosstown to the Mets, is a sure thing. Not so fast.
Several other teams also make sense for LeMahieu. Which ones? The Athletic’s MLB reporters list the Dodgers, Blue Jays, Red Sox and Rockies as the strongest fits besides the Yankees and Mets (subscription required).
The Dodgers were interested in LeMahieu before he first signed with the Yankees, and the defending World Series champs don’t have a starter locked in at third base or second base — perfect for the versatile LeMahieu. The Blue Jays could build a super-infield with LeMahieu, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette and Cavan Biggio. The Red Sox have needed a reliable second baseman ever since Dustin Pedroia’s knee injuries began, and LeMahieu could be their next star at the keystone.
And the Rockies, of course, would love to have LeMahieu back, both for his ability to deepen their top-heavy lineup and his ability to balance the infield alongside Ryan McMahon and Brendan Rodgers, with all three able to play multiple positions. Plus, LeMahieu would be insurance in case Nolan Arenado leaves … or he could be the piece that keeps Arenado in Colorado.
Report: ‘80% chance’ LeMahieu stays in pinstripes
Dec. 24: The Mets are doing their due diligence in checking in with LeMahieu after the suspension of second baseman Robinson Canó, but how much does their entry affect the Yankees’ clearly stated intentions of re-signing the reigning MLB hitting champ?
According to Meredith Marakovits of the YES Network, maybe not all that much. In an appearance Wednesday on MLB Network’s “High Heat” program, Marakovits reported that the Yankees’ high interest level still makes it very likely that LeMahieu returns to the Bronx.
“I’d say there’s an 80% or higher chance that DJ LeMahieu is going to be a New York Yankee,” said Marakovits. “You’ve heard [general manager] Brian Cashman say that [re-signing LeMahieu] is their first priority, and I’m trying to think of times that the Yankees have said something is their first priority and they haven’t been able to get that deal done.”
Marakovits believes the only way LeMahieu signs with the crosstown Mets instead is if the Queens club “absolutely blows him away,” as there is a limit to how far the Yankees will go in terms of both dollars and years.
“If [Mets owner] Steve Cohen wants to go way above and beyond that, it would be in DJ LeMahieu’s best interest to take the deal,” she said. “Does LeMahieu want to remain a Yankee? I think the answer to that is, ‘Yes.’ Do the Yankees want him back? I believe the answer to that is, ‘Absolutely, yes.'”
So the ball might indeed be in Cohen and the Mets’ court. If they really want to steal the Yankees’ prime target away, they would probably need to seriously outbid their longtime, deep-pocketed rival.