Yankees could make a surprising infield shift with DJ LeMahieu

New York Yankees, DJ LeMahieu
Aug 29, 2020; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees second baseman DJ LeMahieu throws the ball to first base for an out during the first inning against the New York Mets at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees are on the hunt for a new shortstop, and while they have a number of mediums they can explore to solve the position, they may also have to make an infield shift at third base.

One of the Yankees’ consistent players this past season was Gio Urshela, who made a meteoric ascension to quality after years battling at the minor-league level. Urshela has become a solid defensive player for the Bombers, specifically at the hot corner. Given he’s preparing to make $6.55 million this upcoming season, general manager Brian Cashman may look to trade him while his value is still at an all-time high.

This past season, Urshela hit .267 with 14 homers and 49 RBIs while also logging a career-high 25.7% strikeout rate and three-season low 4.5% walk rate.

If Cashman finds a trade partner willing to take Urshela’s contract, the Yankees will have to fill the third base position with a new player. Theoretically, they may already have the answer on the roster. In the scenario, they elect to retain Gleyber Torres for the future, despite his liabilities in the infield, they could look to DJ LeMahieu as a solution.

After failing to play shortstop, Torres is down to his final defensive slot, second base. However, LeMahieu’s preferred position is also at second, which could force the Yankees to make a surprising move — shipping him to the corner.

LeMahieu has experienced 143 games spanning 11 seasons at third base, totaling 1,031 innings. He hosted a .945 fielding percentage with 16 errors, which undoubtedly showcases below-average efficiency during his time there.

However, DJ has consistently been asked to fill the slot as a supplement, never being given the opportunity to find any sort of consistency. If the Yankees entrust him with the full-time job at third base, they may be surprised to see what he can accomplish over the course of a whole season. There is no doubt that Urshela is the better defender, but he’s a bit lost in translation given the Yankees’ desires offensively.

Rumors recently indicated the Bombers could look to Matt Chapman of the Oakland Athletics as a potential stop-gap while they wait for Anthony Volpe or Oswald Peraza to reach the majors. If Cashman managed to execute a deal, Chapman could transition to SS, and LeMahieu could play 3B, or vice-versa.

One way or another, the Yankees have a number of different avenues they can explore this upcoming off-season 2.0, but it seems as if LeMahieu will have to change positions if they elect to keep Torres.