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Monday, January 11, 2021

DJ LeMahieu engaging other teams in free agency with Yankees slow to meet his price

A two-time batting champ and the New York Yankees’ best player for two seasons running, LeMahieu, according to a source close to his family, has become dismayed by the slow-play tactics of the Yankees, along with other clubs. Teams that have engaged with the LeMahieu camp say LeMahieu expects more than Josh Donaldson’s four-year, $92 million deal with the Minnesota Twins and at least on par with J.D. Martinez’s five years and $110 million with the Boston Red Sox. The Yankees, LeMahieu’s preferred club after two successful seasons in the Bronx, have not met those terms.

The 32-year-old LeMahieu has, therefore, asked his representatives to re-engage with teams that have previously shown the most interest, the source said, among them the Los Angeles Dodgers, Toronto Blue Jays and New York Mets, and to reconnect with teams that reached out early in the free agent period, including the Atlanta Braves, St. Louis Cardinals, Boston Red Sox and others.

LeMahieu expects to meet virtually with several teams this week, according to the source, that are seeking to fill holes at second or third base.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: January 11, 2021 at 09:36 AM | 9 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: dj lemahieu, yankees

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   1. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: January 11, 2021 at 11:11 AM (#5998986)
@JonHeyman

As mentioned on @MLBNetwork the Yankees will go 4 years for DJ LeMahieu. There’s still a $ gap, however; it appears there’s still a standoff with all the very top free agents. Dodgers, Jays, Mets among others interested but it’ll still be a surprise if DJ leaves. #HotStove
   2. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: January 11, 2021 at 11:30 AM (#5998990)
LeMahieu expects more than Josh Donaldson’s four-year, $92 million deal with the Minnesota Twins and at least on par with J.D. Martinez’s five years and $110 million with the Boston Red Sox.
And teams aren't falling all over themselves to jump on this opportunity? I'm shocked.
   3. Zonk Opposes Trial by Combat Posted: January 11, 2021 at 11:34 AM (#5998993)
You could hire, like, BOTH Ian Stewart and Tyler Colvin for that kind of money!
   4. reech Posted: January 11, 2021 at 11:37 AM (#5998994)
For that kind of money- you could sign 20 Robbie Grossmans!
   5. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: January 11, 2021 at 12:23 PM (#5999000)
LeMahieu has been legitimately great over his last 871 PA in 2019-20, but before that he had exactly *one* season of more than 100 OPS+. In Colorado. He turns 33 in July. What team would want to pay the 37-year-old version of that player more than $20 million?
   6. Walt Davis Posted: January 11, 2021 at 04:57 PM (#5999067)
LeMahieu is continuing a long-running tradition of 2Bs putting up surprisingly good seasons in ages 30-32. Just in the expansion era:

Joe Morgan had 3 incredible seasons
Sandberg had 3 seasons of 7-8 WAR
Biggio put up 9 WAR at 31 (and very good seasons at 30, 32)
Franco, Cano, Alomar both with 2 big seasons
Even guys like Boone (9 WAR at 32), Zobrist (7.6 at 30), Robby Thompson (6 at 31), Kendrick (6 a 30), Polanco (6 at 31), Loretta (6 at 32)

For the expansion era, ages 30-32, 2B have 5 of the top 25 WAR seasons plus Rod Carew who had moved to 1B at 31. (Granted, 3 are by Morgan but 3 are also by Mays). I counted 16 + 2 Carew out of the top 100. (The latter is not too incredible given it's nearly impossible for Cs to make the list.) If you combine the seasons, 2B are 3 of the top 11 (Morgan, Sandberg, Biggio) plus Carew. Zobrist, Franco, Utley also sneak into the top 30. LeMahieu might have had a good shot at joining them with a full 2020.

Not that I think there's anything predictive or position-specific that leads to 2B peaking in their early 30s (and I assume there are many who did not), it's just an odd phenomenon. Carew, a pretty fast player in his youth, had a bit more than 1 triple per 100 PA in his 20s -- he hit 38 in 2032 PA for ages 30-32 (same park) and stole a career-high 49 bases at 30.

As to DJ -- comps are surely few and far between and Coors makes that even harder. His BA at Coors is less impressive, his power at Coors downright unimpressive, a relatively huge power boost upon leaving Coors is weird but might be explained with launch angle. Maybe somehow he was less effected by Coors -- other than 2018, his road BAs were good those last few years -- which might suggest that OPS+ and Rbat undervalued him a bit (as predictive of how he would hit elsewhere) ... but probably not. His defense has mostly been very good but may be in decline ... or maybe that's a product of the Yanks moving him around a lot and he'd still be an excellent 2B. He could be in the Jeff Kent, Adrian Beltre mold where he takes a big jump offensively around 30.

Obviously at these ages, you always prefer fewer years for the same AAV. Something like JDM's contract (at a somewhat lower AAV) might work here -- i.e. pay him 2/$50 plus 3/$50 with a player option. Of course if he's looking for more than 4/$92 he's not in the mood to take 5/$100 and I'm not sure I'd want to offer 5/$100. He might be exactly the sort of player you want to approach with something like a 2/$60 offer.

He turns 33 in July. What team would want to pay the 37-year-old version of that player more than $20 million?

Leaving baseball vs non-baseball age aside ... ages 32-36

Kent 26 WAR
Beltre 29 (his big prove-it season in Boston was age 31)
Sandberg 15 despite 1.5 seasons retired and .5 season being depressed
Zobrist 16
Utley 14
Polanco 12
Mark Ellis 12

That's just off the top of my head with Polanco and Ellis sort of the "if the bat isn't real but the glove returns" comps. Obviously you don't want to pay $100+ for 12 WAR, the question is whether that is the expecation (or even above expectation) or a realistic downside.

Sandberg is the only one of those who hit much before his late 20s. Looking more broadly using stathead, Tony Phillips, Whitaker, Torii Hunter, Kinsler, Brady Anderson, Grich, Randolph, Damon, Scutaro (for crying out loud), Biggio, Lonnie Smith, Gardner, Justin Turner, Mora, Lopes, Cameron, Harrah, Downing, Casey Blake (!!), Frank White are all guys with at least 15 WAR for ages 32-36, mostly playing non-corner positions, a reasonable number of whom were late bloomers.

Obviously the list of guys who stunk (or didn't play) for 32-36 is much longer but playing well at those ages is not exactly rare for a LeMahieu type. I'll also grant that on most (maybe nearly all) of those you'd rather not have their age 36 season but that's usually the price you have to pay for getting ages 32-35. Teams have never shown any strong reluctance to signing players through age 36.

Man, Casey Blake. I'd forgotten about that guy. He did zilch through age 28, barely played in the majors, then Cleveland made him their starting 3B at 29. Put up 24 WAR in 8 seasons with solid hitting and above-average defense, done at 37.
   7. The Duke Posted: January 11, 2021 at 06:44 PM (#5999096)
Yankees, dodgers, Mets, Red Sox, blue jays, Braves and cardinals.


One of these teams is not like all the others.
   8. Froot Loops Posted: January 11, 2021 at 07:16 PM (#5999105)
As to DJ -- comps are surely few and far between and Coors makes that even harder. His BA at Coors is less impressive, his power at Coors downright unimpressive, a relatively huge power boost upon leaving Coors is weird but might be explained with launch angle.

In two seasons with the Yankees, DJ hit 27 homers at home and 9 on the road.

What kind of analysis looks at DJ's Coors Field numbers but not his Yankee Stadium numbers?
   9. Walt Davis Posted: January 11, 2021 at 07:45 PM (#5999111)
What kind of analysis looks at DJ's Coors Field numbers but not his Yankee Stadium numbers?

Nobody has suggested such a thing.

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