6. DJ LeMahieu – 5 Years, $75 Million Remaining
Why LeMahieu so low? The AAV is nothing compared to the other merchants on this list, and his overall multi-faceted offensive profile seems likely to age into at least decent performance for the remaining five seasons of his deal.
The Bombers stretched the 2019-20 MVP candidate’s deal an additional year to squash the annual financial burden, so his $15 million per year is nothing they can’t stomach.
Unfortunately, his deal has to make the list because of his 2021 regression. If 2021 LeMahieu is the starting point for his incoming performance, then perhaps committing to the player’s later years is a worse idea than we all thought.
Add in Gleyber Torres’ resurgence, a crowded infield, and several top prospects fighting their way to the surface over the next year or two, and LeMahieu starts to look like a versatile obstacle rather than a valuable hinge on a roster.
Unless he’s hitting. In that case, the team will always find room.
In 2021, LeMahieu hit the ball on the ground far too often, and posted a slightly-below-average 97 OPS+ while battling a sports hernia that seemed to debilitate him. So far this season, there’s been more lift and separation in LeMahieu’s swing, but in a depressed offensive environment, he’s only managed to be above-average (109 OPS+) rather than exceptional, the way he was in his first two seasons in New York.
If he continues walking down this path, or regresses, his contract will look more like an albatross, even at a moderate value.