As of January 10, 22 out of the top 50 free agents in Major League Baseball remained unsigned. That number was reduced by one on January 11 as Jack Curry of the YES Network reported that second baseman DJ LeMahieu, formerly of the Colorado Rockies, is signing what is believed to be a two-year deal worth approximately $24 million. The report has since been confirmed by Ken Rosenthal of the MLB Network. The signing is pending a physical.
LeMahieu, formerly of the Colorado Rockies, is an 8-year veteran who has a career batting average of .298. He is a two-time All-Star, 3-time Golden Glove winner and in 2016 had his best statistical season batting .348 with a .911 OPS. He finished 15thin the Major League All-Star voting that year. With LeMahieu going to a big media market, his home/road splits will garner intense scrutiny. While the 30-year old had an .835 career OPS at Coor’s Field, it dropped to .673 on the road.
The Rockies were linked to free agent second baseman Bryan Dozier who recently signed with the Washington Nationals. This leaves the Rockies with a lower salary, and less experience, at a position that LeMahieu had nailed down for several seasons. The Rockies’ options for the position include Ryan McMahon, Garrett Hampson and Brendan Rogers. Rogers is the Rockies’ number one prospect (number 9 on the MLB list, according to MLB pipeline). The Rockies are also being mindful of costs with third baseman Nolan Arenado in his final year of arbitration. If the Rockies hope to keep their young star, the payroll will have to get trimmed.
In New York, LeMahieu will be added to an infield that already includes Gleybar Torres, Miguel Andujar and recently signed Troy Tulowitski. And shortstop Didi Gregorius is also expected back at some point in 2019 after he recovers from Tommy John surgery.
Putting aside the questions that arise for Yankees fans about what is becoming a crowded infield, the signing of LeMahieu may be further indication that the Yankees are out of the Manny Machado sweepstakes. The free agent infielder met with the Yankees in late December but has yet to announce where he will sign. The Phillies and White Sox are said to be two other landing spots for Machado.
LeMahieu was recently mentioned as a target for the Milwaukee Brewers, Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants. The Giants interest was leading to rumors about a possible trade for long-time second baseman Joe Panik.