Cincinnati Reds: Why DJ LeMahieu would cure what ails the hitting

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 25: DJ LeMahieu #26 of the New York Yankees drops his bat heading to first during the fifth inning against the Miami Marlins at Yankee Stadium on September 25, 2020 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 25: DJ LeMahieu #26 of the New York Yankees drops his bat heading to first during the fifth inning against the Miami Marlins at Yankee Stadium on September 25, 2020 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images) /
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The Reds should add DJ LeMahieu’s bat this offseason.

Whether or not the Cincinnati Reds are willing to spend big in free agency this offseason is questionable at best. After dropping $125M in free agency this last season, is the Cincinnati front office willing to spend big again? If so, Nick Krall and the team’s executives should try to land DJ LeMahieu.

LeMahieu is arguably the best available bat on the free agent market. The Yankees slugger was extended a qualifying offer, but just like Trevor Bauer, LeMahieu is expected to reject the offer and will enter free agency with a draft pick attached to his services.

In LeMahieu’s two years with the Yankees, he has hit .336/.386/.536 with 36 home runs and another 40 extra-base hits. This year, LeMahieu led the league in batting average (.364), on-base percentage (.421), OPS (1.011), and OPS+ (177).

Obviously, the point must be made that LeMahieu has primarily played second base throughout his 10-year career. But, the 31-year-old has shown versatility when he’s had to, seeing time at first and third base as well as shortstop.

While LeMahieu’s experience at shortstop is minimal (four innings), he’s an offensive upgrade nonetheless. LeMahieu’s career .991 fielding percentage suggests he could be good enough to figure out any infield position.

Cincinnati Reds fans made arguments last year that Kyle Farmer should be playing shortstop, and justifiably so with his performance. So if Farmer, a former catcher, can do it, then it shouldn’t be a stretch that one of the better hitters in baseball could follow suit.

DJ LeMahieu has the option of returning to the Yankees for $18.9M next season. LeMahieu will be 32-years old next season and I would assume he is looking for one last big payday. MLB Trade Rumors estimates that LeMahieu may take home a four-year/$68M contract on the open market.

LeMahieu, a right-handed bat who has nearly 400 innings of experience at first base, could also be a suitable substitute for Joey Votto. We’ve seen how much Votto’s defense suffered last season, and with the universal DH likely on the horizon, LeMahieu’s presence at first base could help transition Votto to the role of designated hitter.

Next. Ray would be a buy-low candidate for the Reds

There are other names out there on the free agent market and some of them even fit positional needs better than DJ LeMahieu. However, LeMahieu is what the Cincinnati Reds need to hopefully get over the hump and contend for the World Series in 2021.