Under-the-Radar Target For the Yankees Could Be A Bargain

The gossip and speculation about Manny Machado and Bryce Harper potentially becoming Yankees will never subside until free agency is “over”. Although Yankees general manager Brian Cashman has downplayed the notion that his team could sign the 2015 NL MVP, it could just be a clandestine approach.

Manny Machado has been the number one item on the wish list of Yankees fans for several years now, and the embattled star third baseman potentially damaged his market when he essentially excused his lack of hustle during the playoffs, though Machado has since attempted to rectify his remarks. Machado is scheduled to meet with the Yankees on Wednesday.

But there is another player who has received virtually no coverage at all, a player who could prove to be very serviceable, and potentially cheap.

That player’s name is D.J. LeMahieu. A free agent for the first time, the former (in all likelihood) Rockies infielder brings great versatility, as he can play either second or third base (though primarily second), and at an elite level.

LeMahieu has won three Gold Gloves over the past five seasons, and that includes two straight. Since winning his first Gold Glove in 2014, the two-time All-Star has more defensive runs saved (48) than all but one other second baseman, the other one being Ian Kinsler. In the same amount of time, his ultimate zone rating ranks third-best among second baseman (20.6). He also has the 12th-highest WAR among players at his position since 2014.

With the Miguel Andujar rumors heating up, LeMahieu would be a viable player at second base, with Gleyber Torres moving to shortstop, and Brian Cashman would either retain Andujar or bring on Manny Machado, or he is hiding a trick or two up his sleeve.

With LeMahieu, however, there is a downside. As is the common point of detraction for many Rockies players, LeMahieu’s numbers away from Coors Field are underwhelming, because while he’s won a batting title and owns an .834 OPS and .386 OBP at Coors Field, his career road OPS is an abysmal .673. Needless to say, he has suffered from the Coors Field effect.

LeMahieu can command a contract within the realm of the average annual value of Ben Zobrist’s ($14 million) or Lorenzo Cain ($16 million). But he would not have to be a long-term commitment. For a player with his defensive prowess, he could prove to be a great return on investment for whomever signs him. He is unlikely to wear pinstripes, but he is worth considering.

 

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  1. Pingback: LeMahieu Is the Steal of the Offseason – The Red Beat

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