LeMahieu won the Batting Title in 2016 and is a three-time Gold Glove winner at second base, including in 2017 and 2018. He made the National League All-Star team in 2015 and 2017.
LeMahieu played 37 games for the Cubs back in 2011. He has spent the rest of his Major League career with the Colorado Rockies, up until he hit free agency at the end of last season. With Charlie Blackmon on a big contract and Nolan Arenado becoming a free agent after the 2019 campaign, Colorado decided against re-signing LeMahieu and brought in Daniel Murphy.
His former team is very relevant when we look at this deal for the Yankees. LeMahieu has stark home and road splits throughout his career. He hit for high average (.330) with good power at Coors Field (.448 slugging). On the road it gets ugly, though. LeMahieu’s batting average is just .264 away from Denver with a .362 slug.
Yankee Stadium is a hitters’ park. It is not anywhere near as favourable as Coors Field is though, where a rapid infield and the altitude favours both contact and power hitters. It is no surprise that LeMahieu was better at Coors (practically everyone is), but his meagre numbers elsewhere are a cause for concern.
This was a surprising move for the Yankees, and not just because it puts them out of the running for Manny Machado. Brian Cashman has already added Troy Tulowitzki to their infield, with Didi Gregorius returning from Tommy John surgery midway through the season. Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar had great rookie years and will be playing almost everyday.
LeMahieu has played every inning at second since 2014. Torres was playing second last year, though he may cover for Tulowitzki at short while they await Gregorius’ return. As a specialist second baseman, LeMahieu is not a great guy to have on the bench. The Yankees might be planning to give him reps at third as cover for Andujar (where he has not played since 38.1 innings in 2014). There’s not a great fit.
It’s obviously not as simple as LeMahieu definitely being as bad for the Yankees as he has been in his road games. That’s not been the case with every other former Rockie who has performed poorly on the road. The .673 OPS is still hard to ignore, though, particularly for a player who has been guaranteed $24 million over two seasons.