New York Yankees News: Hal Steinbrenner speaks out on DJ LeMahieu’s play and more

William Parlee
New York Yankees, DJ LeMahieu
May 29, 2019; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees second baseman DJ LeMahieu (26) watches his solo home run against the San Diego Padres during the first inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees Chief Operating Partner Hal Steinbrenner spoke out yesterday on the “Michael Kay Show” on ESPN when asked about contract negotiations for DJ LeMahieu.

“I think I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t recognize what a contribution he made to the club and how good of a player he is,” Steinbrenner said on “The Michael Kay Show” on ESPN Radio in New York. “I recognize both those things. I’ll leave it at that.”

That statement didn’t exactly point one way or the other, as far as what talks have or haven’t been going on. In fact, saying, “I’ll leave it at,” he seemed to indicate to Kay not to ask any more questions. However, the conversation did continue when Kay posed a similar but more general question asking Steinbrenner what next year’s payroll will look like.

“We’ll see,” he said. “It depends what kind of money is going to be required to be spent based on what we look at and decide needs change. But look, there’s no doubt we sustained significant losses this year, more so than any other team in baseball. … We’re going to have to see what we really feel we need and what that’s going to cost, and we’ll go from there, the way we do every year.”

It is likely with no paying fans this year at Yankee Stadium and the extra cost incurred with health protocols and other expenses that the Yankees will try to balance spending while fulfilling the club’s needs to improve the team. The Yankee’s payroll payouts were cut in half this year by the pandemic reducing the massive losses the club endured. Another issue, with spending, will be complicated, like the Yankees, at this point, still don’t know if they will have fans in the stands in the 2021 season.

Getting back to LeMahieu’s situation, Steinbrenner’s statement indicates he is fully aware of how important DJ is to the club. He knows he is going to earn more money, even though no figures have been thrown around. Since signing him from the Colorado Rockies, he has earned $12M million a year for the past two years. Most in the know figure it will take a contract of three or four years will most likely be offered and in that area of $20M per year.  The New York Yankees won’t want to extend a contract longer than that, considering that LeMahieu will turn 33 next season.

LeMahieu’s first year with the New York Yankees DJ immediately showed his worth being an excellent defender at second base and a timely, frequent hitter. The quiet baseball player just did the job he was hired to do, and at the end of the season, won a Silver Slugger Slugger Award. This season even proved the Yankee investment was a wise one as LeMahieu remained healthy and won himself the AL batting title, becoming the only player to win the coveted title in both leagues.

Steinbrenner also spoke about the signing of Gerrit Cole, indicating that he was happy with Cole’s performance by heaping praise on him.

“highly intelligent, which we knew going in. Incredibly hard worker and he instills other people to work harder than they might even otherwise do. He’s hard-core. We got exactly what we wanted in Gerrit.”

In the coming month’s all the questions coming out of this season will be answered. How big a contract LeMahieu gets, what will happen with Gleyber Torres at short, and if there will be any catcher changes. Yankee fans will be watching closely if the ever-popular Brett Gardner will be on the 2021 New York Yankee team.