Cubs should pursue reunion with DJ LeMahieu this offseason
Could the Chicago Cubs reunite with infielder DJ LeMahieu this offseason?
DJ LeMahieu dominated for the Chicago Cubs’ Double-A affiliate. In 56 games, LeMahieu slashed .358/.386/.492 with a 136 wRC+, per FanGraphs.
After another brief stint in Triple-A, LeMahieu saw some action with the big-league club. Though the youngster struggled at the dish, he did show promise with the glove.
But LeMahieu was not long for Chicago. In one of the early moves of the Theo Epstein era, LeMahieu was part of a package sent to the Colorado Rockies primarily in exchange for Ian Stewart.
While the deal might not have seemed like much at the time, LeMahieu has since developed into one of the better infielders in baseball.
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The 31-year-old had the best season of his career in 2019, slashing .327/.375/.518 with 26 homers and a 136 OPS+. Seemingly everyone in the New York Yankees lineup went down with some kind of injury. Still, LeMahieu was a consistent hitting staple and run-producer in the middle of the order.
LeMahieu also played multiple positions for the Bronx Bombers. A second baseman by trade, LeMahieu also saw a ton of innings at both corner spots, providing the Yankees with quality defense from anywhere on the diamond.
The result was a career-high 5.4 fWAR, which ranked 18th in baseball.
LeMahieu is set to be a free agent this winter, which is both good and bad news for the veteran. On the plus side, he is coming off a career year. But as for the negatives, LeMahieu will be 32 in July, and his market might suffer if he regresses in a shortened season.
But regardless of what LeMahieu’s market looks like, the Cubs should pursue a reunion with their former prospect.
For starters, the organization still has a question mark at second base. But even more importantly, LeMahieu might be a cheaper alternative in the event the Cubs end up trading third baseman, Kris Bryant.
The fact is, players LeMahieu’s age simply does not attract a lot of financial attention in the open market. Heck, his original contract with the Yankees was for two years and $24 million.
Additionally, LeMahieu does not have the same track record as Josh Donaldson, who got $92 million guaranteed from the Minnesota Twins. While Donaldson has routinely flashed a power stroke and excellent plate discipline, LeMahieu hardly possesses lethal power and does not draw a ton of walks.
What is very clear is LeMahieu would be far less costly than Bryant will be when he hits the open market after the 2021 season.
If the Cubs do indeed feel pressured to move Bryant, signing LeMahieu would posit as some kind of reshuffling. It would be a move that would still advance the team’s goal of winning right now.
LeMahieu is not the same kind of offensive threat as Bryant. But he is a superior defender and would be terrific either as Javier Baez’s double-play partner or at the hot corner.
Nobody knows what the future holds for the Cubs (or for baseball) this season. But they should seriously consider bringing LeMahieu into the fold this winter, for the right price.