New York Yankees: For the Yankees as much as things change day to day, the more they remain the same

New York Yankees, DJ LeMahieu
Feb 20, 2019; Tampa, FL, USA; New York Yankees infielder DJ leMahieu (26) catches a ball thrown from home plate in a steal drill during spring training workouts at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

For the New York Yankees and the other 29 MLB teams, things are changing in this offseason from day to day, but for the Yankees particularly, everything seems the same. The same because the Yankees in the first two months of the offseason, after another early exit from the postseason, seem to be doing nothing, and time is running out with every player signed by another team. The Yankee front office has taken the stance that they can’t do anything until they find out if they can sign DJ LeMahieu.

The lack of any movement to improve the team for the 2021 season comes from the top. Owner Hal Steinbrenner has made it clear that he wants to cut $30-40 million from last year’s payroll and stay below the luxury tax threshold that cost him over $24 million in taxes last year. All of this when the New York Yankees have more holes to fill than they have in recent memory. They have a subpar shortstop and starting catcher. But those are minor to the big problem pitching.

The Yankees, after the World Series, lost three starting pitchers to free agency, none of which were offered a qualifying offer. Masahiro Tanaka’s seven-year contract was over, and James Paxton and J.A. Happ also walked. Add to that the once best bullpen in baseball is now a big question for the Yankees with losing Tommy Kahnle to Tommy John surgery and the fact that another key to success, Adam Ottavino, seems to have lost his way.

At this point, the only moves the New York Yankees have made is to hire a few (8) minor leaguers, a few of which will get an invitation to spring training but won’t likely impact the 2021 season. The only two hired that may see action are Nestor Cortez Jr. and Adam Warren. In another perplexing move, the Yankees let Jonathan Holder walk while keeping Ben Heller. Heller pitching in just six games last year with no wins. On the other hand, Holder has been a workhorse for the Yankees eating up over 176 innings in the last five years. They have also used him as a substitute closer in 40 games during the span.

The other big problem for the Yankees is that with each day that passes, it seems less likely they will be able to re-sign LeMahieu. The sides are from $25-50 million apart according to who you want to believe, as the length of his contract is the sticking point. The Yankees want three years, and DJ wants five years. Neither side at this point seems to want to budge. Meanwhile, other teams, namely the Toronto Blue Jays and the Los Angeles Dodgers, are making a serious move to sign the batting champ. Although the Yankees have the edge, the first team that satisfies his five-year demand is likely to win the prize.  DJ has indicated that security is his most important concern as he winds down his career.

All of this inaction is causing Yankee fans to realize that this is the offseason of discontent. Only the most faithful Yankee fans are willing to wait and see what happens, while others are calling for owner Hal Steinbrenner to fire general manager Brian Cashman; that hasn’t brought a World Series win to New York since 2009. Still others across social media are calling for Steinbrenner himself to sell the team to someone who wants to win.

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