Yankees could lose DJ LeMahieu to Mets or Red Sox in MLB free agency
Two years ago, there was no qualifying offer for DJ LeMahieu to consider.
He was coming off a decent, if unspectacular, season with the Rockies and was mentioned in the same category with another free agent infielder at the time, Jed Lowrie.
Lowrie ended up signing a two-year, $20 million deal with the Mets and hardly got on the field, while LeMahieu went to the Yankees for two years and $24 million and blossomed into one of the game’s premier hitters.
The Yankees’ pursuit of LeMahieu out of Colorado surprised some, since they had Gleyber Torres at second base, but it turned out to be exactly what the Yankees needed.
If they want to keep him in The Bronx, the Yankees will almost certainly face tougher competition this time around.
The 32-year-old LeMahieu has until Wednesday to decide whether to accept the $18.9 million qualifying offer from the Yankees or become a free agent, and it’s widely expected he’ll reject the offer.
The next day, LeMahieu will find out if he’s the AL MVP. He’s one of three finalists, along with Jose Abreu of the White Sox and Cleveland’s Jose Martinez.
Whether LeMahieu wins the award for the first time or comes up short, he would be among the top position players available on the market with plenty of teams — including the Yankees — interested in signing him to a multiyear deal.
And that includes other teams in their division.
The Blue Jays are expected to make a run at LeMahieu. Toronto already struck on the free-agent market, signing right-hander Robbie Ray to a one-year, $8 million deal. LeMahieu could play third for the Blue Jays if they want to move Vladimir Guerrero Jr. to first base.
The rebuilding Red Sox are also in need of a second baseman, and Tampa Bay was in the mix for LeMahieu before he signed with the Yankees last time, although he might be out of the Rays’ price range now.
In the National League, both the Giants and Dodgers had interest in LeMahieu two years ago. Depending on how Los Angeles feels about Gavin Lux, they could go after LeMahieu again.
And then there are the Mets, with new owner Steve Cohen’s billions. They could play LeMahieu at third base or, if the DH is used again in the National League next year, shift Robinson Cano there, with LeMahieu playing second.
Of course, LeMahieu remains an ideal fit for the Yankees, but if his best position remains second base and Torres would probably be better served moving back to second as well, something will have to give. With an uncertain economic landscape ahead due in part to COVID-19’s impact on the sport, LeMahieu may be one of many free agents impacted this offseason.
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