3 reasons DJ LeMahieu needs to be Yankees’ No. 1 priority

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The New York Yankees have a lot to think about this offseason in terms of their roster, but re-signing D.J. LeMahieu is a no-brainer.

Since arriving in the Bronx, infielder DJ LeMahieu has been nothing short of magnificent for the New York Yankees, producing at both the plate and on defense. The two-year deal he signed with the team has turned into quite the steal, and general manager Brian Cashman should do everything he can to make sure DJLM doesn’t leave.

Looking back at his first two seasons with the Yankees, it is clear that LeMahieu vastly out-played the $24 million he was given. In 2020, he followed up a monster 2019 campaign by leading the league in batting average during the COVID-19 shortened season, and took his bat to the playoffs, showing he can perform under the biggest and brightest lights.

In 2019, LeMahieu finished fourth in MVP voting, and he should once again be the mix for the award this season. The Yankees have already given him a qualifying offer, which he will certainly reject, but if Brian Cashman wants to continue to move this franchise in the right direction, LeMahieu has to be a part of the long-term plan.

Here are three reasons the Yankees need to make LeMahieu their No. 1 priority in free agency this offseason.

DJ LeMahieu of the New York Yankees — Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports
DJ LeMahieu of the New York Yankees — Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports /

3. Versatility

DJ LeMahieu’s defensive versatility cannot be understated.

When it comes to LeMahieu, a lot is talked about his bat, and it’s easy to understand why. He’s been arguably the best hitter in baseball over the past two years. However, while he is certainly a wizard once he steps in to the batter’s box, he is also an astute defender and can play first, second and third base.

With the Yankees, he has shown that he can play all over the diamond, and that’s something that should make him a priority for Brian Cashman this offseason. There are a lot of question marks in terms of this roster, including what to do with Gleyber Torres, who has struggled mightily at shortstop since taking over.

Bringing LeMahieu back to possibly play first base would enable the Yankees to go after a more sure-handed option at shortstop, and maybe bring back a familiar face in Didi Gregorius, who was not given a qualifying offer by the Philadelphia Phillies. That would move Torres back to second and likely force the Yankees to trade Luke Voit.

We know that’s an unlikely option, but it’s a good secondary one to consider when bringing back DJ. At the very least, he’ll be able to fill in elsewhere across the infield when there are inevitably injuries. But we can expect him to be the full-time second baseman unless Cashman is ready to make big changes.