The Yankees announced their signing of infielder, DJ LeMahieu on Monday to a 2-year, $24 million dollar deal.
The deal came as quite a shock to Yankees fans and analysts alike. Most of the baseball world thought the Yankees were the favorites to land star free-agent Manny Machado, but the signing makes that move now highly unlikely.
The Machado instance aside, DJ LeMahieu makes a lot of sense for the Yankees. A two-times all-star, LeMahieu put together an impressive resume while in Colorado, amassing three gold gloves and a batting title in 2016.
The Yankees did not sign him to only play second base — despite his 48 DRS since 2014 — but to play all around the infield. The Yankees plan to employ LeMahieu as a utility infielder, similar to the Neil Walker role last season. This would allow him to get regular playing time filling in whenever Miguel Andujar, Gleyber Torres, Luke Voit, or Troy Tulowitzki needs a day off.
LeMahieu is a good, versatile defender who can play all over the infield. Look for him to rotate in at second, third, and first base. The one caveat, however, is his home and road splits during his time in Colorado.
For his career, LeMahieu has some dramatic home and road splits, the most alarming being his OPS. In Colorado, he posted a career OPS of .835, but on the road, he posted a .673 OPS. Those splits may be alarming at first, but according to reports, the Yankees have identified him as someone with untapped potential.
One of the added benefits to DJ LeMahieu’s game is his low strikeout rate. LeMahieu has not struck out more than 100 times since 2015, and he has shown great bat-to-ball skills, even outside of Coors. His bat adds a different dimension to the Yankees lineup, balancing out high strikeout guys in the middle of the lineup.
This may not be the splashy move that all Yankees fans were expecting, but it is a move that makes sense for this Yankees team.