The Yankees came to an agreement with a Gold Glove infielder Friday afternoon, but it wasn't Manny Machado.
The Yankees appear to have strayed even further away from Machado, agreeing to a two-year, $24 million contract with DJ LeMahieu according to reports and confirmed by SNYtv's Andy Martino.
LeMahieu, 30, is contact hitter who owns a career .298 avereage with a .350 on-base percentage and .406 slugging percentage. LeMahieu does possess home/road splits that favor hitter friendly Coors Field, but his approach at the plate could still translate well in New York.
Of interest is a belief that LeMahieu will be somewhat of a roving infielder for the Yankees, playing second base, third base and first base. However, in 941 MLB games, LeMahieu has trotted out to the keystone 94.8 percent of the time and performed more than adequately, claiming three Gold Glove awards. He has played 41 games at third base and four each at first base and shortstop meaning a transition to multiple positions will have a learning curve.
The major league infield becomes quite deep - even with Didi Gregorius out until mid-summer - with LeMahieu aboard with multiple constructions available to Yankees skipper Aaron Boone. The remaining infielders are Miguel Andujar, Greg Bird, Gleyber Torres, Troy Tulowitzki and Luke Voit.
In my view, and if we look at this as the Yankees completely out on Machado, the LeMahieu addition appears at first to be a hedge mostly at shortstop and somewhat at first base.
Tulowitzki, who was recently signed to the league minimum salary after being released by the Blue Jays, has been told that he would be the starting shortstop on Opening Day. However, if Tulowitzki is unable to live up to his end of the deal because of his multiple ongoing health issues, the Yankees would likely pivot toward sliding Gleyber Torres to shortstop with LeMahieu taking hold control the second base job.
As for first base, the Yankees would be ecstatic if Bird or Voit run with the job. But, if we are looking at it honestly, neither player is a sure thing. Bird has underwhelmed as a whole and has dealt with various injuries of his own. Meanwhile, Voit was superb down the stretch for the Yankees last season, but there is a reason he saw his break at 27 years old. If both Bird and Voit fail or if injuries take both players down simultaneously, it would seem LeMahieu might be able to step in despite the lack of experience at the position.
Personally, I feel like this move becomes wasted with LeMahieu bouncing around the infield. IF Tulowitzki makes it through spring training unscathed and locks down the shortstop role, why not slide Torres (a natural shortstop with an excellent arm) to third base and place LeMahieu at his best position? The Yankees could move Andujar to designated hitter on most days and potentially utilize him at first base, if necessary.
Even if Tulowitzki is healthy, are we so certain that the Yankees won't switch gears and ask him to play third base? There is nothing saying that they cannot do so and it might be the best option. Playing third base would be less grueling than shortstop and might keep Tulowitzki healthier, while it more importantly allows Torres takes over at shortstop. Torres and LeMahieu would comprise an excellent infield up the middle.
At minimum, the team has given itself plenty of opportunities in the infield and while the glamor is not necessarily there, the versatility could go a long way. That is especially true if they place infielders at the positions that maximize defense without subtracting offense.