The Yankees may have to replace veteran utility infielder

MLB: New York Yankees at Los Angeles Angels, dj lemahieu
Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees faced a challenging game against the Boston Red Sox on Saturday night, losing 8–4 due to difficulties with their pitching staff. Starting pitcher Carlos Rodon was hit hard, surrendering seven hits and five earned runs over just five innings. The bullpen didn’t provide much relief either, allowing an additional two earned runs over three innings.

Reevaluating DJ LeMahieu’s Role With the Yankees

Amid the struggle, the offense also missed key opportunities, leaving the bases loaded twice without scoring. Utility infielder DJ LeMahieu, now the full-time third baseman following a right foot injury, managed to contribute three RBIs with just one hit. This hit, a single to center field, came off a light touch at the end of his bat—more lucky than skillful.

As the trade deadline approaches, the Yankees might need to reconsider LeMahieu’s role on the team. Despite his past contributions, his performance has been declining. In 2023, he batted .243/.327/.390 with 15 homers and 44 RBIs, accompanied by a concerning 22.2% strikeout rate and a 10.7% walk rate.

So far this season, LeMahieu’s numbers have continued to dip. Over the first 14 games and 54 plate appearances, he’s hitting a mere .196 with an on-base percentage of .302 and no extra-base hits.

MLB: New York Yankees at Kansas City Royals
Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

LeMahieu’s slugging metrics this year are particularly alarming. He has a career-low 37.1% hard-hit rate and an 87.6 mph average exit velocity, significantly below his career averages. Known for his contact-based hitting style, he has struggled to avoid grounders, posting a 64.7% ground ball rate, the highest since his rookie year.

Despite these offensive struggles, LeMahieu remains a solid defensive player. He has maintained a perfect fielding percentage over 96.2 innings and is capable of playing both corner infield positions. However, for a team with World Series aspirations, his current offensive output might not suffice. The Yankees may need to look for a more potent bat to fill the third base slot, ensuring they have no weak links in their lineup as they aim for championship success.

General Manager Brian Cashman faces a critical decision as the deadline nears. With the team capable of contending for a title, it’s crucial to optimize every roster spot. LeMahieu, while valuable defensively and versatile, might be better suited in a reserve role moving forward, allowing the Yankees to acquire a more impactful starter who can provide the necessary offensive production to complement their strong pitching and defense.

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