Yankees’ veteran utility man could end up being replaced

MLB: New York Yankees at San Francisco Giants
Credit: Robert Edwards-USA TODAY Sports

New York Yankees INF DJ LeMahieu has struggled mightily this season. With the trade deadline looming, the Yankees may soon have no choice but to make an upgrade over LeMahieu at third base.

LeMahieu is Struggling to Find His Footing

After missing the first two months of the season due to a foot injury, LeMahieu has been searching to find his groove ever since his return. On the season, LeMahieu is hitting to a measly .196 batting average, with zero home runs, five RBI, and a porous .488 OPS in 56 at-bats. LeMahieu has yet to get an extra-base hit this season since his return from the IL.

LeMahieu’s struggles have been marred by constant weak contact. Entering play on Wednesday, LeMahieu carried just a 45 WRC+ and a ground ball percentage of 61.5%, the highest since his rookie season in 2011 with the Chicago Cubs. LeMahieu has also grounded into five double plays in his 56 at-bats. Additionally, LeMahieu’s line-drive percentage entering Wednesday was just 10.3%, by far the lowest mark of his career, and his hard-hit percentage was 37.5%, also the lowest of his career.

mlb: game two-new york yankees at boston red sox, dj lemahieu

The Yankees Need DJ to Turn Back the Clock

The 3-time All-Star’s struggles go beyond just this season. After making the All-Star team in his first season with the Yankees in 2019 and winning the AL batting title the following season, LeMahieu has looked like a shell of himself. Since hitting for a .327 average in 2019 and a .364 average in 2020, his highest mark in a full season is .268 in 2021. His batting average has continued to decline with each passing season, hitting .261 in 2022, .243 last season, and now .196 so far this season.

The once-durable LeMahieu has also battled numerous injuries over the past few seasons. He missed 37 games in 2022 due to injury, 26 games in 2023, and missed the first 55 games of this season. Judging by his recent performances, the injuries that have bedeviled him in recent years may finally be catching up to the 35-year-old.

Could the Yankees be in the Market for an Upgrade?

The veteran infielder is under contract with New York through the 2026 season, holding an AAV of $15 million per year. While his defensive versatility will always prove valuable to the Yankees, they can’t afford to trot out his fast-declining bat every single day.

MLB: Oakland Athletics at New York Yankees, dj lemahieu
Credit: Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

With the trade deadline looming, the Yankees could be in the market for an upgrade at third base, given LeMahieu’s struggles. Colorado Rockies 3B Ryan McMahon, Houston Astros 3B Alex Bregman, and St. Louis Cardinals 3B Nolan Arenado, among others, could all be names that the Yankees target as candidates to be the next third baseman in The Bronx.

LeMahieu will try to right the ship while he still can as his playing time clock continues to tick. If the 2-time batting champion can’t figure it out soon, the Yankees may be forced to make a difficult decision regarding the former MVP candidate.

Mentioned in this article:

More about: