A year ago, we weren’t quite sure what to expect from DJ LeMahieu and the toe injury that stole his signature contact swing. Those concerns lingered at the All-Star Break as the Yankees’ two-time batting champ’s batting average sat at just .220 with a .643 OPS.
Out with Dillon Lawson, in with former fellow whole-field hitter Sean Casey. Wave the magic Louisville Slugger and LeMahieu is suddenly himself again. He’s hit .280 with an 1.020 OPS, plus six home runs in his last 13 games.
The timing of this is particularly perfect too, especially with half of #YankeesTwitter demanding the Yankees trade him earlier in the season. Looking at Spotrac, LeMahieu has accumulated 10.128 years of MLB service time. This is significant because he can now receive the annual pension benefit of about $100,000.
Of course, that annual benefit increases if he keeps playing regularly, thus accruing more service time.
What matters more, rather, is that LeMahieu will have spent five years with the Yankees at season’s end. Ten years of service time, five of which have been spent with one team.
And now, a word from Article XIX, Subsection A, Item 1 from MLB’s official collective bargaining agreement with its players:
The contract of a Player with ten or more years of Major League service, the last five of which have been with one Club, shall not be assignable to another Major League Club without the Player’s written consent.
Translation: players with 10+ years of service time and the most recent five years with one team can veto any trade. Considering DJ LeMahieu initially came to New York without guaranteed playing time and then re-signed in free agency, he’s not going anywhere.
But at this point, would the Yankees even want to move on from LeMahieu? His weighted on-base average (wOBA) is up to .316. He’s still a fine defender whose outs above average (OAA) sit in the 77th percentile. LeMahieu can also play both corner infield positions as well as second base.
All this to say that after the season, the Yankees literally cannot trade LeMahieu without his consent. And, mind you, his contract already had a limited no-trade caluse. Three years, $45 million remain.
At the very least, general Brian Cashman must be feeling pretty grateful that LeMahieu has found that hitting stroke again. A noodle-batted DJ LeMahieu with 10/5 rights is the Mark Teixeira sequel nobody wants.
Follow ESNY on Twitter @elitesportsny