BRONX, N.Y. — When the New York Yankees re-signed DJ LeMahieu in the offseason, they made a commitment. As you well know by now, the organization inked the second sacker to a six-year contract, worth $90 million. It’s the kind of pact that says, you’re the face of our franchise.
At 32, LeMahieu sets the table at the plate and the tone in the clubhouse. LeMahieu prepares like crazy and it shows. He leads by example and he’s the consummate team player. Bat him in any spot in the order, play him at any position on the field and he just goes. Machine-like.
LeMahieu strikes me as the kind of guy who won’t ream someone out but at the same time, you don’t want to get the look or glare of disappointment.
His skill set earned him a batting title, silver slugger, and third-place finish in MVP voting last season. He’s a pro’s pro, as the late Tom Seaver used to say on the WPIX telecasts. That’s why LeMahieu should be the next Yankee captain.
Think about all of those tangible and intangible reasons listed above and then fast forward to this spring. Whom did phenom shortstop Gleyber Torres seek out to emulate this spring? LeMahieu.
Torres, 24, whose talent continues to rise higher than a Manhattan skyscraper, has been attempting to take his game to the next level under the wing of his double-play partner. The two have been virtually inseparable this spring and Torres spoke to how much a complete player LeMahieu was, along with his winning mentality.
During a recent interview with MLB.com Yankees writer Bryan Hoch, Torres referred to LeMahieu as an older brother, a guy who has done it all in both leagues, a complete player, and someone whose example he wants to learn from.
You know that carries some clout if a young guy like Torres is extolling those virtues about LeMahieu. If all goes to plan, he’s likely the superstar face of the franchise for the next 15 years.
Yes, I know some will say LeMahieu hasn’t been here long enough and he hasn’t even won a championship… yet. Yet, he does command that veteran respect and carries himself with a hard-nosed gamer approach, with MVP-type numbers. Plus, you know he’s going to be here for the foreseeable future.
I’m sure some will also argue a guy like Aaron Judge has the larger-than-life presence, personality, talent, and marketability, which he certainly does. Perhaps others may make a case for a guy like Gerrit Cole, who has a large and lengthy contract here and is changing the culture and expectation level. However, whether it’s Judge’s injuries or Cole pitching once every fifth day, you need a guy who’s out there daily. LeMahieu is that guy.
It was about seven years between the baton being handed from Don Mattingly to Derek Jeter and it has been about seven years from Jeter to LeMahieu now. From El Capitán to Le Capitán.