Appearing on teammate Ross Stripling’s Big Swing Podcast Wednesday, Bichette had high praise for free agent LeMahieu, who has finished third and fourth in American League MVP Award voting in his last two seasons with the Yankees.
“From my understanding, a lot of the free agents feel really strongly about us, too,” Bichette said. “I will say this. I think DJ LeMahieu is the best hitter in baseball and I don’t even really think it’s close from what I’ve seen. He’s probably the No. 1 player I’d want to play with in the league. If that would happen, that would be awesome for us, but either way our team’s pretty good already. I’m confident we’ll compete.”
Whether LeMahieu is the game’s best overall hitter is very much up for debate, but if you focus in solely on hitting for contact, LeMahieu is right there. The 32-year-old is coming off a batting title in 2020, when he hit .364 with 10 home runs and a 1.011 OPS over 50 games.
Bichette spent time around LeMahieu when his father, Dante, was the Rockies' hitting coach. LeMahieu was not yet the hitter he’s developed into, but even then, Bichette admired how he worked. Stripling, who’s had the unfortunate task of pitching to LeMahieu over the years, agreed.
“He’s the worst to pitch to," Stripling said. "Back in the day when he was tucked in there between Trevor Story, Charlie Blackmon and Nolan Arenado? It was just awful. He would just hit it wherever he wants. That outfield in Colorado was so gigantic. It’s brutal. He’d be an awesome one, man. I’ve heard nothing but good things.”
Toronto’s pursuit of Springer is still expected to take precedent, though, and the club is obviously not alone in any pursuit of LeMahieu. Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said recently that LeMahieu is “this winter’s priority” for the club, so it’s easy to envision a scenario where this stretches into 2021.
Blue Jays go 'lightbulb shopping'
Holding his annual “Winter Meetings” availability recently, MLB agent Scott Boras addressed how the Blue Jays have changed in recent years. Once a regular critic of the club’s offseasons, Boras and Toronto seem to have a much stronger relationship now.
Austin Martin, Toronto’s No. 5 overall Draft pick and No. 2 prospect (per MLB Pipeline) is a Boras client, along with Hyun Jin Ryu, who the Blue Jays signed to a four-year, $80 million deal last winter.
“This year, they are able and assertive about what they want to get done,” Boras said. “They really feel this is a now time for them. I said before that they built the lamp and now they’re looking for the right lightbulbs. I think they’re in ready pursuit of a group of players that they think can be additions to the core they’ve built. I think they’re very confident that those additions will lead them to levels that they haven’t been at for some time.”
Vladdy settling into routine in LIDOM
Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s Dominican Winter League season is off to a fine start, with his first week featuring everything from towering home runs to channeling The Undertaker in a postgame clubhouse celebration. While everyone else’s focus is on his defense, Guerrero is putting in long hours on the other corners of his game, too.
“I always get here early to work, to work on my swing, to work on my defense and to work on my physical conditioning,” Guerrero said, speaking with reporters in Spanish. “I don’t think about just working on my hitting.”
Report: Urena returning to Blue Jays on Minor League deal
Infielder Richard Urena has agreed to a Minor League deal with the Blue Jays that includes an invitation to Spring Training, according to MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez. The deal has not yet been made official by the club.
A former top prospect with the Blue Jays, Urena, who’s still just 24 years old, spent seven seasons with the organization (2013-19), including three in the big leagues. Urena was with the Orioles in '20, but he did not appear in any games.
While Urena hasn’t put it together at the Major League level just yet, there’s still plenty to work with in a young, switch-hitting infielder who plays multiple positions. Urena certainly had a supporter, too, in Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo in 2019. Over his three MLB seasons, Urena has hit .253 with a .636 OPS.