Second baseman DJ LeMahieu was a godsend for the Yankees during the previous two seasons, but as a free agent, he could go elsewhere this offseason. Re-signing with the Yankees is LeMahieu’s preference, according to Ken Davidoff of the New York Post, but the 2020 American League batting champion wants to stay in the area. That could put a LeMahieu-Mets union in play, per Davidoff, though he reports that the Blue Jays are also in on him.
The Mets now have an unexpected opening at the keystone after starter Robinson Cano received a 162-game suspension Wednesday because of performance-enhancing drugs. Cano won’t earn a penny of his $24MM salary as a result, which will only make it easier for new, deep-pocketed Mets owner Steve Cohen to make splashes this winter. The Mets don’t necessarily have to throw money around at second, as they could simply use Jeff McNeil at the position and allocate their cash elsewhere, but LeMahieu does look like a more realistic option for the franchise than he did before Cano’s punishment came down.
The Yankees, for their part, aren’t going to let LeMahieu walk without a fight. They already gave LeMahieu a qualifying offer worth $18.9MM for 2021, but he made the no-brainer decision to reject it. They still want to keep him, however, according to Davidoff.
Regardless of whether LeMahieu stays with the Yankees, the team’s call to sign him for two years and $24MM before 2019 was a masterstroke, considering he was its best player over the prior two seasons. The 32-year-old former Cub and Rockie is now coming off a near-MVP season, which puts LeMahieu in position to clean up during this winter’s free-agent period. MLBTR pegs LeMahieu for a four-year, $68MM contract, though it wouldn’t be surprising to see him do even better than that on the open market.