Now that it is a very real possibility that we have seen the last of DJ LeMahieu in a Colorado Rockies uniform, is it possible that we undervalued the impact he had on the franchise?
Certainly LeMahieu’s rise from trade chip from the Chicago Cubs to one of the all-time 25-man Colorado Rockies team members has been well-documented. Along the way, LeMahieu earned a pair of All-Star Game invitations and a batting title and posted a 17.7 WAR. However, perhaps it’s the everyday contributions that will be missed the most should the Rockies choose not to re-sign the 30-year-old second baseman.
Colorado manager Bud Black has often spoke of how LeMahieu’s demeanor has impacted the Rockies in ways fans haven’t seen. His relationship with Charlie Blackmon produced one of the most laughable photos of the bearded outfielder. There are times that fans and media members alike roll their eyes at the words “clubhouse presence,” but it’s clear that LeMahieu was a fortress of solitude during some of the franchise’s toughest and best days in recent years.
And let’s not forget about the everyday defense that LeMahieu provided. His two Gold Gloves are proof of his value and his sliding stops of a ball that seemed destined for right field and a base hit were marvelous to behold. He made tough plays seem routine, a skill that is not easy to replace.
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With Brendan Rodgers and Garrett Hampson waiting in the wings, it’s conceivable that the Rockies will go with the youth movement at second base. The salary that could have found its way into LeMahieu’s pockets will likely be put toward a huge offer to Nolan Arenado in hopes of keeping him in a Rockies uniform throughout the prime of his career.
Few Rockies fans would argue with that, but it comes with a cost. And that cost is likely waving goodbye to LeMahieu … and thanking him for all he did to help push the franchise to the high levels of success it is currently enjoying.
Did we truly appreciate him during his days at Coors Field? We’ll find out next season when we’ll see just how much of a shadow his legacy leaves behind.