DJ LeMahieu is coming off another fantastic season and the New York Yankees have to be praying their second baseman returns next season. LeMahieu is almost certain to turn down the team's qualifying offer, and when he does he'll be one of the more sought-after free agents on the market. There's a real chance one of the Yankees' biggest rivals will scoop him up.
LeMahieu had a phenomenal 2020 season, hitting .364 with 10 home runs, 27 RBI, a career-best OPS of 1.011 and his fWAR (2.5) ranked 15th in baseball. He won his second batting title and second Silver Slugger Award as well.
LeMahieu has an $18.9 million qualifying offer on the table, but the 32-year-old MVP finalist is expected to reject it. That could set off a bidding war. The Toronto Blue Jays are expected to pursue him, and I'd be shocked if Steve Cohen's New York Mets don't go after LeMahieu to try and make a splash. It would be a direct shot at the team's crosstown rival.
After a down year the Boston Red Sox could also use a veteran presence at the top of their order, as could the San Francisco Giants. Additionally, the Los Angeles Dodgers, Philadelphia Phillies, Washington Nationals and Los Angeles Angels are all expected to express interest.
The Yankees need to find a long-term defensive home for Gleyber Torres and his best position is likely second base. They could always invest heavily in LeMahieu and figure out the defensive alignment later, but that seems like poor roster management. Either way, the franchise has some decisions to make.
It's likely the Yankees are the favorites to re-sign LeMahieu, but they'll have to expend considerable resources to do so. If not, they could watch him wind up with a rival.