Is DJ LeMahieu a Good Fit for Dodgers?

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While there has been plenty of team news for fans of the Dodgers so far during the offseason, there haven’t been many rumors linked to free agents or trades, so when the big media outlets throw out a big name linked to the team, all of us bloggers tend to express our two cents almost immediately.

On Monday, Jon Morosi reported that there are three teams which have emerged as the top suitors for free agent second baseman DJ LeMahieu. Los Angeles appears to be among the trio, with the other two clubs being the Nationals and the Twins. LeMahieu certainly isn’t as flashy as some of the top free agents like Bryce Harper or Manny Machado, but I think he could fit in well with the Dodgers, especially in terms of what they are trying to accomplish at the keystone.

While many felt that defense was the main reason the team snatched Logan Forsythe and Brian Dozier in recent years, the true intention of the club was to upgrade its attack against opposing left-handed pitchers. Both Forsythe and Dozier had strong career splits against southpaws, but neither could ever find their strides against either hand offensively. Some thought injuries were the main reasons why, but at this point it’s irrelevant because the Dodgers are still unsettled in terms of a concrete option at second base heading into 2018.

There’s still a chance the club could sign Dozier; however, it’s very unlikely as long as there are guys like LeMahieu on the market. Tim Dierkes of MLBTR has LeMehieu pegged at garnering an offer in the 2-year/$18 million range, which could be a bargain for the Dodgers based on all the things he can do.

The 30-year-old native of Visalia, CA has earned three gold gloves during his eight-year big league career, two of which have come in the past two seasons. His strong glove work fits in well with the Dodgers’ defensive philosophy up the middle, as he’s one of the absolute best in the business in terms of UZR and DRS. In 2018, the two-time All-Star committed just four errors in 591 chances at second base.

More importantly, his career splits offensively are relatively even against southpaws and right-handers alike. Lifetime, he averages .313/.369/.445 against lefties, while he posts a .292/.343/.391 slash line against right-handers. Somebody with the ability to play everyday would benefit Los Angeles tremendously, as the club had more than a handful of positions last season that featured several different platoon scenarios. Nevertheless, in 2018, LeMahieu hit opposing lefty pitchers well, as he registered a .900 OPS against them. Many people also forget his 2016 campaign when he won the National League batting title, albeit half his games were played on his home ground at Coors Field.

Another positive of LeMahieu’s game is that he excels at situational hitting and he hardly strikes out, which is a rarity in the Dodgers’ lineup these days. Over the past three seasons, LeMahieu has never been fanned more than 100 times. If Dozier and Machado are included, the Dodgers had a whopping seven regular contributors who struck out more than 100 times last season, and that’s on a squad which was notorious for its platooning.

Of course, signing somebody like LeMahieu would change the landscape of the 25-man roster dramatically, as it would almost guarantee Enrique Hernandez and Chris Taylor be relegated to their current platoon/super-utility roles. And, if Max Muncy is still in the mix come Opening Day 2018, it would mean that he would likely be featured at first base with LeMahieu the regular at second, while Cody Bellinger would be getting the bulk of the reps in center field.

Regardless, for the price tag on his back right now, I think LeMahieu could be the steal of the 2018 free agent market, especially if he would sign for just two years and less than $20 million.


34 thoughts on “Is DJ LeMahieu a Good Fit for Dodgers?

  1. “Is DJ LeMahieu a Good Fit for Dodgers?”

    In a word – hell yes he is.

    He’s an every day All Star caliber second baseman. As you mentioned, if he’s on the roster it strengthens up the middle, with Bellinger where he belongs – every day in center. Muncy, Kiké and Taylor get key at bats in sub roles all year.

    Sign him, trade for P and C, then we can all go back to sleep until Spring.

    1. What am I missing Scoop? You say you want Bellinger in center every day and Muncy in a sub role. Who is our every-day first baseman?

  2. I still would like to see a return of Dee Gordon I realize he had a tough OBP last year but had some injury problems. We need a lead off hitter who doesn’t hit home runs and can steal a base and set the table for the swing for the fences lineup we have. Seattle needs a center fielder and we have one in Joc P who can be replaced by on base machine Verdugo batting 2nd in the lineup and then have Seager bat # 3

    1. Old school thinking Larry. And I’m right there with you. Speed at the top, power in the middle, defensive wizardry at the bottom. But Gordon isn’t the answer. Anyone with an OPS as low as his (.637 last year, career .686) isn’t on Friedman’s radar. Chris Taylor and his .262/.331/.435 slash line is more what they are looking for. Would sure like to see that middle number up to .350. Maybe Scoyoc can improve it. Doubt it. The Gordon model is probably done. Unless he could repeat his PED .776 OPS year. That isn’t likely. Launch angle. Exit velocity. ISO DAP. I made that one up.

  3. I think LeMahieu is a perfect fit in LA. Unlike Scoop, I think Bellinger should be at 1st everyday. I do not like Muncy’s defense anywhere. There are plenty of outfielders on this team who can play CF. Taylor, Kike, and Verdugo. Kemp will most likely be moved if they can find a partner. I think they have a better defense with Belli at first. Putting Muncy there is just hiding the fact that he is really not very good anywhere on defense.

    1. Those are my sentiments exactly. I like Verdugo in center, actually. And at the top of the order. Puig can have RF for his final year as a Dodger, and Joc and CT3 can share the platoon in left. Hernandez can maintain his super-utility role. I’m all for moving Muncy while his value is at an all-time high, so long as they get something a little decent in return.

      1. How about including Muncy in a deal for Syndergaard? I don’t think Cleveland has a real need for him or I would have suggested including Max in a deal for one of the three starters. Or include him in a deal with Seattle for Diaz or to the Pirates in a deal for Vazquez. Or if we really want Realmuto, send him to Miami as part of that deal. I think all four of those teams could use him and I agree that we should try to play Cody at first. Four years of control , 35 homers and a 4.2 WAR last year should make him a valuable piece in a trade.

  4. I’d love to see the Dodgers sign DJ he is the kind of, put the ball in play hitter this team needs, but that is a position we have done a lot of platooning at in past seasons. I hope the FO doesn’t let that keep the from making a real effort to sign him. With him DJ at second, and belly at first that would be a very good right side of the infield. I think we need to make Muncy part of Dennis’ Vasquez, Cervelli deal. Two birds one stone.

    1. Getting Vazquez and Cervelli would certainly solve two problems and Max might be a strong piece to get them interested. I don’t think you have to worry about Andrew wanting to platoon where it isn’t necessary. In his interview the other day he stated that in a perfect world he would have the same 8 guys starting every day and build the rest of the roster around that. We know that JT and Seager are two guys who start every day because they play well against all comers. If DJ would do that as well, he would start most every day.

  5. So Bear, you don’t buy the experts ranking on defensive position rankings? I do. Always have. Defense up the middle is by far the highest weighted positions. Most rank importance in this order – C, SS, 2B, CF, 3B, RF, 1B, LF. You say there are a number of players who can play CF. That is of course true. You could play CF. My neighbor Roy could play CF. But I think you might agree that it would be wise to put somebody out there that is faster than you or Roy. Your center fielder should run like a deer. Bellinger is the fastest guy on the team. He could be an All Star CFer and add to his WAR total by playing out there. His talent is wasted at 1B. Since 1B is at the bottom of the WAR chart, I put you, Roy and Muncy there. In ST, I hit Muncy 100 grounders a day, have him field 100 throws in the dirt a day and make sure he never sees another inning at 2B. Or, better yet, follow Jeff’s plan and trade him now.

  6. I’m offended Scoop. You didn’t mention me as one of our options for a center fielder. Earlier today, you mentioned that you wanted Belli in center but then you mentioned Max as a sub. If he’s a sub (or if we trade him) and Cody plays center, who’s our everyday first baseman?

    1. Max can platoon with Freese. He actually has no position. He’s Max Calhoun. If he’s traded then we just rest Freese occasionally and use a utility dude. ANYBODY can play first base.

      I was pulling Bear’s lanyard. You want to play center? Grab your glove.

      1. I would love to see a stat that shows (for a decent sized sample) what the difference was in saved throws in the dirt between the best and worst first baseman for any given year. I assume the stat guys are correct in saying that first base is low on the WAR chart, because……………..well, they’re the stat guys but it seems to me that a guy who can scoop, Scoop, would be very valuable. And because he’s on the receiving end of most every infield throw, those numbers could really add up over the course of a season. Garvey was great at it and so is Cody. I’ve got to believe that there is some real value in that skill.

      2. Not everybody can play 1st base. Or have you forgotten some really bad 1st basemen in baseball history. Dr. Strangeglove, Dick Stuart was a lousy 1st baseman. David Ortiz was moved to DH because his defense was terrible. It is not that easy, I know, I played the position for years, both in softball and baseball. I lost my lanyard……

  7. No Scoop ol buddy. I would not move Bellinger from 1st to CF. He is one of the best defensive 1st basemen in the league and that length and glove of his saves a lot of bad throws. Jeff, you might be able to play CF, but I am past my prime. That lack of defense at 1st cost the Dodgers a few times. Even in the playoffs. Belli might be the fastest guy on the team, but Verdugo and Taylor can run pretty damn good too. And unless they trade Kemp, everyone keeps forgetting he is in the OF mix too. He is the only player who won an award this year. They got shut out on everything, silver slugger, gold glove…..Buehler came in 3rd in the ROY voting, but Kemp was voted comeback player of the year in the players choice awards. Of course they could solve all that and sign a free agent CF too, or trade for one. But I doubt they would go after a high priced free agent. But I would love to see and everyday player like DJ on this team. They have had preliminary talks with his agent. But a solid catcher should and will be a top priority.

    1. It’s about the the numbers. It’s always about the numbers. In this case it’s defensive runs saved. The charts are available.

      You think Stuart was bad at first? Imagine him at second or short.

      Taylor is pretty good in center, I’ll give that. He’s good everywhere he played. And he played high leveraged up the middle positions. That’s part of the reason he had 4 WAR. (1.1 dWAR). First base just generate much dWAR and I suspect the reason is first base just doesn’t generate much defensive runs saved. I don’t know why. Ask Jonah Hill.

      We’ll see what the plan is. I think Bellinger is penciled in in center, but I could be wrong about that.

    2. Now wait a minute Bear. If you’re going to insist that I have to be in my prime to play center for the Blue, I might have a problem. I just did the math, and it turns out I’m about 50 years past my prime. Oh well.
      I think the difference of opinion on the value of first basemen is an interesting discussion and I’m definitely more in your camp on this one.

  8. What’s a guy gotta do to be appreciated?!!! Muncy has an incredible year and now everybody wants to trade him!

    1. This is our way of complimenting him Rich. You don’t see any of us calling for Andrew to trade Yimi do you? 🙂

    2. Muncy is a conundrum. He came from nowhere, and he has no real position where he is very good defensively. Yeah, he showed a lot of power and was pretty picky at the plate. Everyone appreciates what he did last year. He was Taylor with more pop. They have a lot of options. They can stick him at first, where he is ok. He does not really have the range to play second. I just do not like his defense anywhere. Were the Dodgers in the AL, he would be perfect for a DH. It’s not like he is a prospect. He was picked up off the trash heap. He will be 29 next season. To expect him to have another year like this year is wishful thinking in my book. The league knows him now, so they will game plan against him more. Packaging him in a trade when his value is the highest would be a really smart move. Look how much Taylor dropped off from 2017, and those K’s kept mounting. Muncy, who did not strike out a lot during the regular season became a K machine in the playoffs. He will always be remembered for some of his clutch hits, but unless his defense miraculously gets a whole lot better, I would consider trading him.

      1. Jeff…..what are the odds Yimi is even a Dodger next year? I think he will be non tendered on Friday. Injuries and lack of production when he has been healthy. Cut bait and let him go.

      2. Agreed. I’ve decide that I don’t have a clue when it comes to relievers. I would have cut Baez years ago and I was ready for Yimi to be our bridge to Kenley. This is why I’m not the new GM around here and instead will be the opening day center fielder. I love Max Muncy the person but, for all the reasons you’ve stated, I think we should at least explore trading high on him which would allow us to move Bellinger back to first and help unclog the outfield. As with any potential trade, you have to determine what you can get for your guy before making the deal, but if Muncy (or Muncy plus others) could help us improve our team, I say go for it.

  9. I agree with Bear about Muncy. I do not believe we will see a .973 OPS again. But, I do think the Composite projection of .850 is possible. With that as a baseline for trade negotiations, we should be able to get a nice return for him. If not, then he stays and plays a similar role again – 400 at bats and maybe 3 WAR. He OPS’d 1.000 against RHP. There are a lot of right handed pitchers in the league. And defense? Give him to me for the next 4 months and I’ll make a defender out of him. Marine Corps boot camp is only 13 weeks. You can get a lot done in 13 weeks. You can get even more done in 16 weeks.

    As you know, I was a Baez supporter when others were calling for his culling. I’m a Yimi supporter too, though not as vigorously as I was with Baez. Yimi has a live arm. He has good spin. If he checks out physically I hang on to him. If he’s broke, move on. Finding relievers is easier than finding starters. I’m not saying it’s easy, I’m saying it’s easier. Though truth be told, Friedman doesn’t really look for stud QS+ pitchers. 5 innings of 3.5 works for him. I’m a little harder to please when it comes to starters. I still want 30 starts and 200 innings.

  10. We have just picked up soon-to-be 26 year old lefty pitcher Adam McCreery from the Braves and have dfa Pat Venditte. Haven’t ever heard of McCreery but in a quick check of his stats, he must be pretty scary. 6’9”, 250 lbs and he strikes out a lot of guys. We paid cash for him, so assuming it wasn’t millions, and understanding that the Braves cut him loose, this may not be the major deal we were looking for as the follow up to the Quackenbush signing.

      1. L.A. Scoyoc is giving advice on pitching? Well then, I think you should take it.

        Now….. about that bet…..

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