Up to this point, it’s been a very quiet offseason. The Dodgers have made a number of moves, and some of them have actually been really good. However, they haven’t made that “flashy” move that seems to be expected now every year with Andrew Friedman.
Well, there’s still a chance that can happen.
All offseason, the Dodgers have been linked to free-agent DJ LeMahieu. He’s coming off a 2020 season in which he won the American League batting title and finished third in MVP voting. And.... he’d be a perfect fit for the Dodgers.
Although he’d be a perfect fit, should the Dodgers try and bring him to Los Angeles?
There are a lot of moving parts as to whether or not the Dodgers should pull the trigger. The biggest is what happens with Justin Turner. As of right now, there’s no real news of him signing a deal with the Dodgers or another team. You would assume he’d return to the Dodgers on (hopefully) a team-friendly deal, but if he’s wanting one final pay day, you have to respect it.
Although he’s up there in age and is more fit to play in a league with a DH, he’d still make a lot of sense coming back to the Dodgers. Again, I would assume he wouldn’t mind taking a bit of a pay cut to return to Los Angeles, but if another team offers him more money and he accepts that, I can’t blame him.
So, let’s say Turner opts to sign elsewhere, then what? Well, then LeMahieu becomes an even more ideal fit for the Dodgers.
As I mentioned earlier, LeMahieu won the batting title last season in New York while hitting .364 with an OPS of over 1.000. I think any team would be more than happy to add that bat to their lineup. This is nothing new, as LeMahieu has been one of the best hitters in baseball over the last few seasons. He won a batting title with the Rockies back in 2016, when he finished the season hitting .348.
Since 2015, LeMahieu is hitting .316/.373/.457/.830. Yes, I know a large portion of his games have been spent at Coors Field and Yankee Stadium, but he’s still a damn good hitter. Although his bat is what led to him finishing in third in MVP voting, that wouldn’t be the main reason as to why the Dodgers would want him in Los Angeles.
It would be his versatility.
The Dodgers are well known for throwing players all over the place in the field. If you can play multiple positions, you’ll find yourself a spot in the lineup on a consistent basis. That’s exactly what LeMahieu could do for the Dodgers.
Although he’s been primarily used a second baseman throughout his career, LeMahieu has become more versatile over the years. He spent 37 games at second last year, but he also spent 11 games at first base and 11 games at third base. In 2019, he spent 75 games at second base, 52 games at third base and 40 games at first base. The Dodgers would be salivating at the mouth reading that.
Not only would his right-handed bat be a huge boost in the lineup (which by the way, LeMahieu is hitting .325 in his career off of left-handed pitchers, something the Dodgers would desperately need) but his ability to move all around the infield would be such an added bonus.
Now, this is where things could get tricky. LeMahieu is reportedly looking for a contract in the neighborhood of five years and $125 million. If that’s the case, I would opt for the Dodgers to pass. He’s definitely worth that in my opinion, but he’ll be 33 in July, and I don’t want to be paying him $25 million a year through his age 38 season. He very well could continue to produce over the years, but I think that’s too big of an investment, especially when you have some young talent in the system. If the Dodgers could somehow bring down the total in years and add more $$$ per year. Maybe like 3 years for $85 million, or something around that mark.
Even if Turner returns to Los Angeles, I still think there’s a chance the Dodgers could still take a flyer on LeMahieu. If the DH isn’t in the NL this year, it will likely return in 2022 which will greatly help the Dodgers moving forward. Kiké Hernandez is likely going to sign elsewhere this offseason, which will be a big hit for LA. His versatility has been crucial for the Dodgers over the years. With his departure, that would leave Chris Taylor, who I don’t think the Dodgers would want to commit to at second base long term. They love his ability to play all over the field too much to commit to him at just one position.
There’s also Gavin Lux, who seems to be the forgotten man. Just a year ago, he was widely regarded as one of the top prospects in all of baseball. He’s only 23 years old and still has plenty of time to turn it around. However, if the Dodgers opt to go the LeMahieu route, maybe they decide to package Lux as a headlining deal to acquire a starting pitcher or a bat.
The Dodgers are World Series CHAMPIONS. Boy, that still feels really good to say. They don’t need to do anything. With the team they currently have, they’re likely going to be favorites to win the division again and will likely be favorites to win the National League. However, there’s no question that signing LeMahieu would make them a whole lot better.
Andrew Friedman has a plan. Trust in his plan. All we can do is sit back and watch.