The Yankees signed DJ LeMahieu for a $ 24 million two-year contract, ensuring that Manny Machado's uncertain research is over. This realization has aroused a ferocious reaction among many Yankee fans on social media, many of whom not only wanted to see the twenty-six-year-old superstar wear pinstripes but had been expected since Machado was a teenager in Baltimore. The Machado connection is part of what makes the analysis of the LeMahieu sign a more difficult exercise than usual, but goes even deeper: it is a symbol of a relationship that changes between the New York Yankees and its fan base .
difficult space in which to operate from an analytical point of view. Consider, for example, only the element of baseball: LeMahieu is an exceptional defender. The publicly available advanced metrics consider LeMahieu to be worth several wins in a defensive way, and non-statistical methods agree with this assessment: he is a three-time base conquered by Gold Glove. It is not a small reason to cheer up the signature; the Yankees have many defensive question marks in their home court and LeMahieu will almost certainly be a defensive reinforcement even if he moves from second base with New York.
Offensively, it's less than two seasons since the wreath of the National League wore an average hit of .348 and although that season was the only one of his career in which he was a better hitter than the average, there is ample evidence that hits the ball strongly and to the opposite field. In July, fans mocked the addition of Luke Voit, but the Yankees trusted that similar background metrics revealed a hitter who could thrive in New York, and they were right. The Yankees are a smart and well managed operation, with access to proprietary data and statistics that external analysts simply do not, and their track record deserves the benefit of the doubt. It would not amaze me to see LeMahieu have an unexpected offensive success.
Factor in which LeMahieu is a player of 2-3 bWAR and a hidden star of Baseball New metric of the Prospect and it becomes clear that his annual salary of $ 12 million is a perfectly normal affair for a free agent perfectly normal. Major League players with an average slightly above average have real value (often forgotten), and LeMahieu responds to this law. It will also replace the non-vital role of Neil Walker and Ronald Torreyes.
In other words, it is easy to see how LeMahieu will adapt to the team. Why, then, was the reaction so fierce?
This is mainly due to the fact that his signature comes amid a turbulent offseason for the Yankees and their fans. There is no need to remember that the Yankees and the much-coveted 2018 free agent class have a special relationship. Enter your favorite Star Wars analogy here: fully functional Death Star, Empire of Evil, etc. There were special agents available and the Yankees had to have a special offseason. LeMahieu, more than the decision to transmit Patrick Corbin or the many nebulous comments offered by Brian Cashman, is the symbol that this long-awaited expectation will not occur.
It does not matter that when the Yankees sold important pieces in 2016, it was to build a young nucleus that could be complemented by one of the stars waiting for a free agency. It does not matter that this young nucleus has blossomed faster than anyone could reasonably expect and has become a dreadful core of talented, young and (unfortunately, above all) team-level and cost-control stars. It does not matter that the Yankees have cut $ 50 million in paychecks after losing the pennant for a single game in 2017, finally coming under the luxury tax we've all heard so much about. It does not matter that both Bryce Harper and Manny Machado were both open about their wishes to play in New York. It does not matter if adding one of them would place the Yankees not only to win the World Series in 2019, but also many more. It does not matter at all, because in the end it mattered very little.
These are the achievements that go through the heads of Yankee fans when they think of DJ LeMahieu, and that's why the reaction to his signature was absolutely negative. The same organization of the Yankees understood it: that's why, just 16 hours before the signature was announced, the team's television network featured a segment with the most trusted Yankee journalists who blunted and mocked fans who dared to desire to cheer for the best possible version of their team. It is also the reason why the sources of the team may have contacted journalists posing the idea that if it were only a slightly set of superstars – which, coincidentally, will be on the market in two years, then it would have been different. Also, we will hear, the Yankees will almost certainly start the season beyond the threshold of the luxury tax, and this will be used to discredit the arguments that the Yankees are cheap.
These tactics are intended to soften Machado and Harper's passing coup, to give fans a shiny new object – this time, Nolan Arenado in 2019 or Mike Trout and Mookie Betts in 2020 – to dream. Speculations about Arenado aside, most fans understand that Bryce Harper and Manny Machado were once those shining objects of the free agent classes to come – until suddenly they were not.
There is one thing we never hear when writers and groups talk about future free agent lessons: we have never heard of the DJ LeMahieus, the perfectly average free agents that cost less and require fewer years than their superstar counterparts. The decision to choose DJ LeMahieu and Troy Tulowitzki on Manny Machado to patch up the battered Yanks infield reveals that the Yankees have changed. For the first time since the Yankees signed Reggie Jackson before 1977, the team is more interested in justifying overcoming superstars than justifying the need for Evil Empire baseball.