Pittsburgh Pirates Free Agent Target: DJ LeMahieu
The Pittsburgh Pirates could get creative in addressing their need for infield depth and right field help early in the season
As everyone knows the Pittsburgh Pirates need help in right field with Gregory Polanco set to miss the first six or seven weeks of the 2019 season. Their best internal option is Adam Frazier, however, Frazier appears primed to become the team’s second baseman in 2018.
However, the Pirates could keep Frazier in his super utility role which would allow him to play right field with Polanco out. One way to do this would be to target a second baseman in free agency, and a free agent second baseman that could fit for the Pirates id DJ LeMahieu.
Defensively, LeMahieu is one of the best in the Majors at second base. Dating back to 2012, LeMahieu’s +66 defensive runs saved at second base is the best in the National League. This includes winning a Gold Glove in 2014 and 2017, being named the Wilson Defensive Player of the Year in the NL in 2013 and 2017, and taking home the Fielding Bible Award in 2017. LeMahieu is also coming off a 2018 campaign in which he had a career high +18 DRS.
LeMahieu was a NL All-Star for the Rockies in 2015 and 2017. In 2016, he took home the NL batting crown with a .348 batting average. Despite this, LeMahieu’s offense still leaves something to be desired.
Last season LeMahieu slashed .276/.321/.428 with a .322 wOBA and a wRC+ of 82. This was LeMahieu’s lowest on-base percentage, wOBA, and wRC+ since 2014. However, his .152 ISO and .428 slugging percentage were bounce back efforts form .099 and .409 n 2017.
In his career, LeMahieu has slashed .298/.350/.406 to go with a .108 ISO, .329 wOBA, and a wRC+ of 90. While he strikes out just 15.2% of the time, his walk rate is just 7.3%.
Adding LeMahieu would allow the Pirates to keep Fraizer in a super utility role when Polanco returns. While Frazier seemed to take a step forward in 2018, his best role still appears to be that of a utility man.
While LeMahieu is an elite defender, leading to him have an average fWAR of 2.6 the last four seasons, his offense has been average at best in his MLB career. That said, he remains a worthwhile free agent target for the Pirates.