DJ LeMahieu
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As the New York Yankees prioritize DJ LeMahieu in free agency, their AL East neighbors to the north also could be interested in him.

Josh Benjamin

DJ LeMahieu may be the New York Yankees’ top priority in free agency this year, but don’t count out the Toronto Blue Jays.

Speaking on teammate Ross Stripling’s “Big Swing” podcast, Blue Jays shortstop Bo Bichette practically lobbied for Toronto to sign the reigning AL batting champ.

“I think DJ LeMahieu is the best hitter in baseball, and I don’t even really think it’s close, from what I’ve seen,” Bichette said. “He’s probably the No. 1 player I’d want to play with in the league. If that would happen, that would be awesome for us, but either way, man, our team’s pretty good already.”

This comes on the heels of an ESPN report in which Jeff Passan stated the Blue Jays “have emerged as significant players in the LeMahieu sweepstakes, and perhaps the biggest threat to him re-signing” with New York.

In the shortened 2020 season, DJ LeMahieu hit .364 with 10 home runs and 27 RBIs, thus becoming the first player to win batting titles in both leagues. He finished third in AL MVP voting, losing to Jose Abreu of the Chicago White Sox.

Is DJ LeMahieu a fit in Toronto?

What’s interesting here is the Blue Jays are a young and talented team, but with a very crowded infield. Bichette has shortstop nailed down, and Cavan Biggio can play second as well as first and the outfield. In fact, Biggio’s career outs above average (OAA) at second base is a respectable 6.

However, the Blue Jays also have defensive woes across the board. First baseman Rowdy Tellez’s career OAA is -3. Slugging third baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. posted a -16 OAA in 2019, so bad that he was moved to first base. He didn’t fare much better there, posting -2 OAA.

Furthermore, Toronto fielded terribly across the board in 2020, posting a team defensive runs saved (DRS) of -39, only ahead of the Washington Nationals. DJ LeMahieu, meanwhile, is an elite fielder who’s won three Gold Gloves and can play three positions.

That said, it’s hard to imagine the Blue Jays being overly serious about signing LeMahieu. He’s been a free agent this long, and he and the Yankees are reportedly far apart on money. What’s stopping them from swooping in and signing him?

It’s also worth noting that even though the Blue Jays are in on LeMahieu, adding pitching should be their top priority. Lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu is the established ace but has little help behind him. In the hard-hitting AL East, the team with the best pitching clinches the crown. Just ask the defending AL champion Tampa Bay Rays.

Even so, the Blue Jays have been one of DJ LeMahieu’s suitors for a while, so anything can happen. Negotiations with the Yankees are ongoing.