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Sources: Yanks, LeMahieu finalizing $90M deal

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New York Yankees’ DJ LeMahieu (26) hits a RBI single in the fourth inning of Game 1 of an American League wild-card baseball series against the Cleveland Indians, Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/David Dermer)

Second baseman DJ LeMahieu and the New York Yankees are finalizing a six-year, $90 million contract, sources familiar with the agreement told ESPN’s Jeff Passan.

LeMahieu finished third in the American League MVP voting after winning the AL batting title with an MLB-leading .364 average during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, becoming just the fourth player in Yankees history to lead the majors in that category, along with Mickey Mantle (.353 in 1956), Joe DiMaggio (.381 in 1939) and Lou Gehrig (.363 in 1934).

It was the second career batting title for the 32-year-old LeMahieu, who won the National League crown with a .348 batting average for the Colorado Rockies in 2016. He joined Hall of Famer Ed Delahanty (1899, 1902) as the only players to win batting titles in both leagues.

LeMahieu had rejected a one-year, $18.9 million qualifying offer by the Yankees.

While seeing most of his playing time at second base, LeMahieu, who made $12 million in 2020, also saw action at first and third base. He has elite contact skills and plate discipline, finishing the season with 10 home runs, including an MLB-best seven to the opposite field, 41 runs scored and 27 RBIs, and he led the AL in on-base percentage (.421), OPS (1.011) and OPS+ (177).

“If you add up the last two years in Major League Baseball, he’s on the short list of short lists for being the best player in the sport,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said after the regular season. “He’s been that impactful. In the biggest moments, he always seems to deliver.”

In two seasons with the Yankees, LeMahieu has a .336 batting average over 195 games, with 36 home runs, 129 RBIs, 150 runs scored and a .922 OPS. During that span, he led the majors with 80 multihit games and was second with 268 hits while posting a .384 batting average with runners in scoring position.

He also defied the perceived norm by hitting home runs with more frequency while playing for the Yankees (every 24 plate appearances) than he did with the Rockies (76).

The only hiccup in his 2020 season came when he landed on the 10-day injured list in August after he sprained his thumb on an awkward swing. It was the second time he had injured that thumb; he also broke a small bone in it while with the Rockies in 2018.

The three-time All-Star selection has a Silver Slugger Award (2019) and three Gold Glove Awards (2014, 2017, 2018) to his name, showing his value at the plate and in the field. In 2018, while with the Rockies, he led all major leaguers in defensive regression analysis.

In 10 major league seasons, LeMahieu, a second-round pick by the Chicago Cubs in the 2009 draft, has a .305 career batting average with 85 home runs, 478 RBIs, 651 runs scored and a .787 OPS.

ESPN

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