Yankees Reporter Floats 2 Trade Targets to Replace DJ LeMahieu at Third Base

DJ LeMahieu

Getty New York Yankees third baseman DJ LeMahieu could be moved to first in the future, with the team opting to trade for a cheaper infield option

The New York Yankees could soon get an infield boost as veteran DJ LeMahieu is set to rejoin the team on their West Coast road trip. He might soon return to third base and man the hot corner for the Yankees for the rest of the season, but looking forward to 2025 and beyond, there is rising speculation that he will be moved to first base as the team looks to shed Anthony Rizzo’s salary.

“If they didn’t re-sign Rizzo, the Yankees could move DJ LeMahieu to first base,” Chris Kirschner wrote for The Athletic. “It might be the best move for him, considering his multiple foot injuries in the past few seasons. That would leave an opening at third base.”

And to fill that opening, Kirschner suggested the Yankees might turn to a couple of relatively cheap options via trade.

“It could make sense for the Yankees to inquire about the availability of two players: Rockies third baseman Ryan McMahon and Pittsburgh Pirates third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes,” he added. “McMahon, who has an .891 OPS, is under contract through 2027 and has an average annual value of $11.67 million. Hayes, the son of former Yankees third baseman Charlie Hayes, is having a down year for the Pirates with a sub-.700 OPS. But he is one of the best fielders. Hayes’ AAV through 2029 is $8.75 million and there’s a club option on his contract for 2030.”

The New York Yankees Might Shift DJ LeMahieu to Retain Juan Soto

Virtually everything the Yankees are projected to do payroll-wise between now and the start of next season revolves around Juan Soto, a generational on-base talent who was acquired via trade from the San Diego Padres, is now playing on a record $31 million deal and is projected to receive a long-term contract in excess of $500 million for the 2025 season and beyond.

If the Yankees want him to remain in pinstripes, the front office will almost certainly have to clear up some money as principal owner Hal Steinbrenner seeks lower payrolls going forward.

Rizzo has a $17 million club option for next season and declining to pick that up, moving LeMahieu to first base and finding a cheaper option at third base could be one of the cleanest ways to clear up a chunk of salary. 

“My expectation has been that the Yankees might shift LeMahieu to first base full-time next season and look in the offseason to upgrade at third base,” Kirschner’s colleague at The Athletic, Brendan Kuty, wrote. “If the Yankees think saving money at first base and shifting it to Soto is a bigger priority, then all bets are off.”

The New York Yankees Might Look Outside for a Third Baseman of the Future

With LeMahieu out to start the season, the Yankees have used a combination of Oswaldo Cabrera and Jon Berti at third base, but neither seem like great long-term options, as Cabrera has a .964 fielding percentage there so far and Berti is a utility veteran without much upside.

McMahon and Hayes could be middling trade options that offer a tantalizing compromise for the Yankees: younger options with proven fielding credentials who are still on team-friendly contracts. Those seem like the kinds of options it will take to retain Soto into the future.

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