The contract that DJ LeMahieu signed with the Yankees prior to the 2019 season must be the most underrated move of that offseason. It’s no secret that the vast majority of fans were disappointed with the deal. Many wished that the Bombers would have added Manny Machado or Bryce Harper instead. Others were perplexed by the decision to blow past the luxury tax threshold to sign a super utility player who hadn’t hit well away from Colorado. Somehow, LeMahieu ended up being the best player on the team and Yankees fans were forced to eat their hats.
2019 Statistics: 145 games, 655 plate appearances, .327/.375/.518, 26 home runs, 102 RBI, 109 runs, 61 extra-base hits, 5.4 fWAR, 136 wRC+
2020 Contract Status: One year remaining on his two-year, $24 million contract
It’s funny how plans change. Going into the season, the Bombers didn’t even intend for LeMahieu to be an everyday player. He was meant to float around the infield and fill in where necessary. He didn’t even crack the Opening Day lineup, with the Yankees instead using Miguel Andujar, Troy Tulowitzki, Gleyber Torres, and Greg Bird to fill the infield. Of course, only Torres survived the first month of the season without injury, and thus opened the door for LeMahieu.
The 31-year-old was by far the most valuable player to don pinstripes this year, and 2019 happened to be the best season of his career. It was not for nothing that he earned the nickname The Machine. He never failed to come up with a hit at a key moment. In fact, he slashed .392/.441/.584 with men in scoring position. He flashed solid defense anywhere the Yankees put him, even at first base where he had almost no experience prior to this season. Beyond that, he was one of the few players to survive the injury bug unscathed. Let the record show that LeMahieu is the only player to earn an A+ this season. He was just that good.
He also had arguably the biggest moment of the ALCS, when he hit a two-run bomb off of Roberto Osuna to tie up the game in the ninth inning. Although the offense struggled during that series, LeMahieu was just as good as he had been all season.
Since LeMahieu is set to become a free agent following the 2020 season, it might make sense for the Yankees to offer him a contract extension during the offseason. Even if they just follow what they did with Aroldis Chapman earlier this month and only add another year, it would be nice to see him stick around the Bronx until at least 2021.