DJ LeMahieu Signing Adds Versatility to Yankees Infield
Despite failing to make a splashy signing during the offseason, the New York Yankees have shown that they are not content with a finish to 2018 that saw them lose in the Division Series to the rival Red Sox. They have added second baseman DJ LeMahieu on a two-year contract, which will add something to the Yankees infield that they have not had in a long time: versatility.
The Yankees infield has been predictable to an extent, with players slotting into their usual positions on a daily basis when healthy. And, that is understandable, when you have some of the best players in the league at each infield position. Miguel Andujar probably should have been the rookie of the year in the American League last season, while Gleyber Torres has taken a hold of second base for the pinstripes. And that is to say nothing of Didi Gregorius, who will be joined by Troy Tulowitzki at shortstop.
Aside from first base, which has been something of an Achilles’ heel for the Yankees, it’s usually clear who is going to play where for the team. But the signing of LeMahieu should do something to change that, as he can slot in at several infield positions throughout the season. He has even said that he expects to wear a lot of different gloves over the season as a result of playing all over the field.
Of course, LeMahieu would fit in nicely at second base for the Yankees, the position where he won several Gold Glove awards before joining the team. But with the current situation at shortstop, he might be able to get some time in there. Gregorius’ return timeline is still up in the air after Tommy John surgery. And Tulowitzki hasn’t proven that he can play at the highest level of the game in quite some time. Resting Gregorius to keep him healthy throughout the season could be a great way for LeMahieu to prove himself, while being an upgrade to Tulowitzki in a number of ways.
The depth that the Yankees have built has helped pull them even with the Red Sox and Astros atop the list of favorites to win the 2019 World Series. All three American League powerhouses have 2019 World Series MLB betting odds of +600, with very little to separate the three of them. Just like Steve Pearce showed with the Red Sox last year, players like LeMahieu can often be more valuable down the stretch than the players with big names like Bryce Harper and Manny Machado.
With the Yankees being known to spend money, it still can’t be ruled out that the Yankees spring for Harper or Machado. But if they do stick to their plan of continuing to be relatively frugal in the free agent market, getting a three-time Gold Glove winner for $12 million per year is a bargain. Whether or not it will result in the Yankees vaulting ahead of the Red Sox remains to be seen, but this is a far cry from the Yankees who would throw millions at players who weren’t as good a fit as LeMahieu is for this team.
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