4 Yankees players officially become free agents, and the DJ LeMahieu saga continues

New York Yankees, DJ LeMahieu

The New York Yankees are in for an interesting off-season with four significant players hitting free agency following the end of the World Series. The Los Angeles Dodgers overcame an analytically driven Tampa Bay Rays squad, meaning the off-season is officially underway.

Decisions, decisions, decision…

The Yankees have a tumultuous and strenuous few months ahead, especially when it comes to their financial flexibility. The most notable name of the four free agents is infielder DJ LeMahieu, who signed a two-year, $24 million deal during free agency prior to the 2019 season.

His performance over the past two years has elevated him to one of the best players in the MLB, slashing .336/.386/.536 with 36 homers and 129 RBIs.

The Yankees have an option to offer a one-year, $18.9 million qualifying offer to their star second baseman, but he would be silly to accept it. His representatives will 100% be looking for a long-term deal and could make as much as $23 million per season. What the Yankees are willing to part with in terms of cash for LeMahieu, who is getting up there in age, is yet to be seen.

The New York Yankees have more than just DJ to deal with:

Aside from DJ, the Yankees have to make decisions with their starting pitching rotation. They are scheduled to lose Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton, and JA Happ this off-season.

Replacing them will not be easy, but they were forced to supplement injuries during the 2020 season, finding talent in youth prospects.

Tanaka, who is a two-time All-Star, was 3-3 with a 3.56 ERA over 10 starts. He is a bit costly, and the Yankees might not be willing to match his price point, so I believe he will be as good as gone. There have been rumors that he could head back to Japan and play overseas.

Paxton, who missed the majority of the campaign with a flexor strain, could be a viable option for return. He was only on a one year, $12 million deal this season, and considering his injury woes, the Yankees could retain him on an even cheaper contract. When healthy, he is a fantastic player that adds diversity to the rotation with his lefty arm. If they can retain him for another year at around $8 million, the Yankees will be in decent shape, moving forward with Luis Severino set to return.

Moving onto JA Happ — Happ found his groove this past year, finishing with a 3.47 ERA, but he was torched by the Rays in the ALDS. He posted a 13.50 ERA, allowing four runs in his single postseason outing. Moving on from him was only a matter of time, as the Bombers will be saving significant money by letting him walk.