What are the Yankees’ choices if DJ LeMahieu leaves?

During the last two seasons — campaigns beset by accidents, uncertainty, and, finally, playoff disappointment — there have been few constants for the Yankees. Definitely one in all them is DJ LeMahieu, the erstwhile Colorado Rockies second baseman who moved to the Bronx on a two-year, $24 million contract forward of the 2019 season.

LeMahieu has been nothing in need of good for the Yankees, offering top-end protection (in addition to versatility) and a completely reliable bat in a lineup that has, at inopportune occasions, run chilly. His 5.9 bWAR led the crew in 2019 and he was, remarkably, higher on this most up-to-date, pandemic-shortened season. He led the squad once more, with 2.9 bWAR in simply 50 video games. When you prorated that manufacturing over the 145 video games he performed in 2019, it will produce an MVP-caliber 8.4 bWAR (yeah, I do know merely prorating is extremely flawed, however you get my level: he was higher!)

The truth that he performed at such a excessive stage whereas on a relative sweetheart contract ought to have made the Yankees entrance workplace blush with embarrassment each time he got here up with a clutch hit. However come Oct. 31, these days are over. Barring the Yanks signing him to an extension within the interim, he’ll hit the free agent market and the person will probably be in line for a big elevate, each in years and {dollars}.

From LeMahieu’s perspective, a place to begin of 4 or 5 years at $20 to $25 million is greater than cheap. Whether or not he can command that in an financial atmosphere shrouded in Covid-related uncertainty stays to be seen, but when he does, would the Yankees be keen to supply that form of a deal to a participant who will flip 33 subsequent July? It’s no slam dunk, regardless of their apparent admiration for him.

Within the occasion the Yankees let LeMahieu stroll out the door, what are there options?

First off, it’s clear there isn’t an possibility within the group to adequately change LeMahieu’s center infield manufacturing: neither Tyler Wade nor Thairo Estrada, the likeliest inside candidates, have confirmed they’re something greater than fringe main leaguers at this level.

Nonetheless, LeMahieu’s departure would open the door for Gleyber Torres to shift again over to second base after a tough season defensively at shortstop (you’ll be able to try Cooper’s evaluation of Torres’ glove and what he’ll have to do to enhance here.) That will imply the Yanks will probably be out there for a shortstop, with various prospects:

Francisco Lindor

Wild Card Round - New York Yankees v Cleveland Indians - Game Two

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If Cleveland stays true to its cost-cutting type of latest years, they could look to commerce Francisco Lindor, who has yet another 12 months of arbitration left (he agreed to a $17.5 million wage final 12 months and would stand to get a elevate subsequent season) earlier than hitting free company. He had a down 12 months offensively by his requirements (102 OPS+ in comparison with a profession common of 117) however he’s a switch-hitting shortstop about to show 27 subsequent month who was a minimal 5.0-bWAR participant each season from 2016-19. He’s additionally robust defensively, ending second this season amongst shortstops in Baseball Savant’s outs above common metric and rating within the high 5 in that class three of the final 4 years. The query is how a lot Lindor would price in a commerce, particularly contemplating he’ll hit free company in a single 12 months.

Didi Gregorius

2019 ALCS Game 6 - New York Yankees v. Houston Astros

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A 12 months faraway from Tommy John surgical procedure, outdated good friend Didi Gregorius signed a one-year, $14 million cope with the Phillies final offseason hoping to rebuild his free agent worth. He succeeded, at the very least on paper, slashing .284/.339/.488 (good for a 119 OPS+) with 10 homers in 237 plate appearances. Maybe much more crucially, he appeared in all 60 of the Phillies’ video games. He’ll be 31 subsequent 12 months, however he’s wholesome and might be an fascinating candidate for a Bronx reunion.

Marcus Semien

American League Division Series Game 4: Houston Astros v. Oakland Athletics

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The Oakland AthleticsMarcus Semien appeared to have lastly come into his personal throughout the 2019 season. At 28, he hit .285/.369/.522 (139 OPS+) with 33 residence runs and appeared primed to capitalize on free company following this 12 months. Alas, he struggled to a paltry .223/.305/.374 (91 OPS+) in an abridged 2020, leaving his future up within the air (he’s additionally not helped by the truth that 2019 was a transparent outlier in his profession; it was the one season the place he posted an OPS+ over 99). He’ll play most of subsequent season at age 30 and is graded as a below-par defender by outs above common, so maybe that ought to dissuade the Yankees from exhibiting any critical curiosity. However he’s on the market.

Andrelton Simmons

Arizona Diamondbacks v Los Angeles Angels

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Thought-about the highest defensive shortstop within the recreation for many of his profession, the Los Angeles AngelsAndrelton Simmons really had a down 12 months with the glove in 2020, registering a head-scratching -1 outs above common after posting a mixed +44 the earlier three years. Which may be defined, at the very least partially, by an ankle harm he suffered at first of the season, nevertheless. Along with his observe document, giving him the advantage of the doubt appears acceptable. Assuming his protection stays elite, his offensive manufacturing (95 OPS+ final 12 months and a profession mark of 91) is satisfactory, particularly in an excellent lineup.

Ha-seong Kim

Lotte Giants v Kiwoom Heroes

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This represents a little bit of a wildcard possibility, however it’s an intriguing one. Ha-seong Kim, at the moment taking part in shortstop for the Kiwoom Heroes of the Korean Baseball Group, will reportedly be posted to MLB this offseason. Turning simply 25 this month, Kim has put up some spectacular numbers in his KBO profession: as of this writing, he’s hitting .310/.402/.530 with 28 residence runs and 103 RBI in 580 plate appearances this season. It may be tough to transpose a KBO participant’s stat line into an MLB context, however FanGraphs’ Dan Szymborski and his ZiPS mannequin take a crack at it, with encouraging results for Kim. In keeping with ZiPS, his present season would translate to .274/.345/.478 with 29 homers. Going ahead, ZiPS tasks Kim to be no worse than a 3.5 WAR participant over the following 5 years within the majors. The KBO posting interval will run from Nov. 10 to Dec. 14, so keep tuned.

Contemplating the Yankees’ choices, doing no matter it takes to maintain LeMahieu in pinstripes should be the perfect plan of action. However on this age of predictable unpredictability, it’s clever to have a Plan B.

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