By Joe Pantorno
While initial speculation has tabbed the New York Mets as a potential suitor for Cleveland Indians superstar shortstop Francisco Lindor, there is a chance the crosstown Yankees could dip their toes in the trade waters.
That is if certain dominos fall a certain way.
On Monday night, Luke Voit appeared on YES Network to address the future of free-agent DJ LeMahieu, who won the American League Batting Title in his second year with the Yankees in 2020 by batting .364.
“I think he’s a great fit with us,” Voit said (h/t Newsday’s Anthony Rieber). “I know he wants to be in New York. I’m sure every team wants him. He’s a stud. There’s a reason he finished top three in MVP voting, even though I thought he deserved to win it. I think he’s going to have a bunch of big-time offers, but I know he wants to win. I know he loves the guys in the clubhouse and loves the coaching staff and he wants to play in New York. I guess we’ll see, but my gut says he’s going to be a Yankee.”
LeMahieu is the best pure hitter available on the free-agent market and has already been linked to teams like the Toronto Blue Jays, but his importance to a Yankees team that is still trying to get over the hump and reach that elusive World Series title No. 28 is immeasurable. And his retention is likely atop the list of priorities for general manager Brian Cashman.
Bringing LeMahieu back could see the Yankees shift the veteran from second base to first, which would replace Voit — MLB’s home-run king in 2020 — as his name has cropped up in trade talks.
As an inexpensive power bat in the middle of an already-formidable Yankees lineup, the 30-year-old is under team control through 2024, which makes him a prime trade candidate for a team that is still in desperate need of reliable pitching depth behind Gerrit Cole.
“It is part of it, and everyone’s name is going to be thrown around,’’ Voit said. “Everyone is a GM, and everyone wants to talk baseball somehow and make the perfect trade. You don’t know what is going to happen. Obviously, I want to be a Yankee.”
If the Yankees do find a deal for Voit, LeMahieu’s shift to first opens up a sizable hole at second base that could be filled by shifting Gleyber Torres over from shortstop, where his defense has been suspect.
That’s where a hypothetical pursuit of Lindor could come to not just round out the Yankees’ infield, but to make it one of the best in baseball.
MLB.com has already speculated on a potential deal to get Lindor to the Bronx as the Yankees would send Clint Frazier, Miguel Andujar, Luis Gil (No. 5 prospect), RHP Albert Abreu (No. 12 prospect) to Cleveland.
It’s a big price for just one guaranteed year of Lindor, who hits free agency following the 2021 season after making $19.5 million. There is also the prospect of using the likes of Frazier and Andujar as trade chips to bolster the pitching staff.
But if the Yankees trade Voit or don’t re-sign LeMahieu, there will be major holes to plug in New York’s infield. That’s when anything could happen.