Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports reported on Sunday night that the Braves, among other teams, have reached out to free agent infielder DJ LeMahieu.
It has been generally assumed that LeMahieu would end up back with the Yankees, after two good seasons with them, but LeMahieu is apparently frustrated with the offers he has received so far from the Yankees. He has apparently become more open to offers from other teams recently, as he tries to get a contract closer to his asking price. Brown reports that his asking price is above $100 million over 5 years.
LeMahieu isn’t necessarily an obvious fit in Atlanta, since he has primarily played 2nd base recently, which is unquestionably occupied by Ozzie Albies in Atlanta, but LeMahieu is versatile and can play third base. Since Austin Riley can also play some non-disastrous outfield defense, this would be a solution to get a highly productive bat into the lineup, even though LeMahieu doesn’t exactly have elite power. Regardless of his power profile, LeMahieu has been an offensive force recently, posting a wRC+ of 136 in 2019 and 177 in 2020. With that being said, he only had one above average offensive season in Colorado (2016) before being traded to New York.
The probability of LeMahieu actually signing in Atlanta seems quite low. This is mostly due to his reported contract demands, combined with his age and less than ideal fit. LeMahieu will turn 33 this season, and is requesting a very large contract. This Braves front office has been reluctant to give large long-term deals to free agents already. In this instance, the Braves would have to outbid one of baseball’s richest teams for the right to play LeMahieu away from his natural position and move Austin Riley out of his natural position long term. This seems especially unlikely for Atlanta to do, since players like Michael Brantley and Marcell Ozuna could provide comparable offensive production for substantially less money, and play the outfield, which is an actual hole in Atlanta’s roster, even if their defense may be questionable.