It was only two years ago that second baseman DJ LeMahieu reached free agency for the first time. The former Cub and Rockie hit the open market as someone who was regarded as a useful contributor, but hardly a star. He still did well for himself, inking a $24MM pact with the Yankees, but now finds himself on the verge of another trip to free agency. The difference this time is that LeMahieu will now be one of the most coveted players available.
While LeMahieu did have a batting title with the Rockies on his resume when the Yankees added him, he didn’t show off a ton of power prior to moving to New York. In all, he was a .298/.350/.406 hitter with a mediocre 90 wRC+ and 49 home runs across 3,799 plate appearances. Since then, though, LeMahieu has exploded for a .336/.386/.536 mark, a 146 wRC+ and 36 HRs, making him one of the sport’s elite hitters. He’s coming off a regular season in which he picked up another batting title (.364) and paced the American League in wRC+ (177).
One of the questions now is how far the Yankees may go to retain LeMahieu. He said before their season-ending ALDS loss to the Rays that there had not been any contract talks, but it’s hard to believe the Yankees won’t put forth an earnest effort to re-sign the 32-year-old before free agency opens. They may not make a competitive enough offer, however, as Joel Sherman of the New York Post wrote earlier this week that the Yankees are likely to “hold the line” at a maximum of three years and $20MM per annum.
During our pre-free agency debates at MLBTR, we’ve set a floor of $80MM over four years, though we have entertained even higher guarantees. No matter what, it’s easy to see LeMahieu, a big hitter with defensive versatility, reeling in a far larger payday than he did the last time he was looking for a contract. For this exercise, we’ll place the over/under at $80.5MM. How well do you think LeMahieu will do? (Poll link for app users)