Yankees’ star infielder should be a ‘full go’ for Spring Training

yankees, dj lemahieu
Jul 30, 2022; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees first baseman DJ LeMahieu (26) hits an RBI single against the Kansas City Royals during the fourth inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

If the New York Yankees really want to make a push to reach the World Series in 2023, they will need a healthy DJ LeMahieu, to get it done. LeMahieu is a starting-level infielder with a quality bat to situate the lead-off spot.

However, LeMahieu dealt with a significant injury that shut him down late in the season, causing him to miss the entire postseason. He did play 125 games, but there is concern arising that LeMahieu may be headed down a path that ends in him being labeled injury prone. Nonetheless, DJ played 150 games back in 2021 and 145 games in 2019, indicating the 2022 season could’ve been an anomaly.

Luckily, LeMahieu was able to avoid surgery on his toe and seems to be headed toward a healthy start to spring training in a few weeks. He has been working diligently down in Tampa to rehabilitate and prepare for the season after signing a six-year, $90 million deal in 2021, paying him $15 million per season.

I will say, the Yankees do not expect LeMahieu to need surgery on his right toe that kept him out of the postseason and he should be a full go for spring training.

Per Chris Kirschner of The Athletic.

The Yankees need DJ LeMahieu to be healthy for the entire 2023 season:

Getting LeMahieu back in full for spring training is exactly what the Yankees wanted, allowing him to compete at second and third base.

The infield is currently going through a transition phase, as the Yankees would prefer for Oswald Peraza to start at shortstop and Gleyber Torres to lock down second base for the time being. That would insert DJ at the hot corner, a position he dominated over a sample size that included 385.2 innings and a .992 fielding percentage. He logged seven defensive runs saved above average and four out above average manning third, suggesting that he should transition there full-time, given his offensive capabilities as well.

In what most would coin as a down year, LeMahieu hit .261 with a .357 OBP, 12 homers, and 46 RBIs with a 116 wRC+. He’s now featured three consecutive years with a 100 wRC+ or better, never falling below a 2.0 WAR.

His Steamer projections have him playing 102 games next season, hitting .274 with a .352 OBP, 10 homers, and 44 RBIs. That is a surprisingly low game count, but they must be assuming his toe injury isn’t fully healed, and he will be fighting through some pain at some point in the season. The Bombers may need to mitigate fatigue down the stretch and manage his workload, as they sorely missed his services as the lead-off man in the playoffs.

Nonetheless, the fact he will be available for the spring and competing is great news after weeks of the team mulling surgery as a potential option.