New York Yankees News/Rumors: LeMahieu on free agency and Aaron Boone on Yankee readiness

William Parlee
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

The New York Yankees fans thought during the last postseason that the Yankees should acquire Manny Machado or Bryce Harper the big free agent names out there.  But Yankee General Manager Brian Cashman passed and instead got a little known Colorado Rockie named DJ LeMahieu and fans were disappointed.  But, Cashman saw something in LeMahieu that he thought would be a fit for the Yankees at a much lower price than the giant contracts the other two would be asking.

As it turns out, Cashman’s decision was brilliant.  For the 2019 season, DJ held down second base during the whole season with cat-like defense, while being a Silver Slugger batting .327 with 26 home runs and 102 RBIs.  Add to that he and Brett Gardner were the only members of the 2019 New York Yankees to play over 140 games in an injury ridden season for the Yankees.  Oh, and as a side point, the duo of Machado with the Padres and Harper with the Phillies was bested by DJ by a wide margin. DJ was the Yankees MVP.

DJ was signed to a two-year $24 million contract and will become a free agent following this season, whether it is played or not.  Interestingly the coronavirus has not only shut down baseball, but it changes the free agency scenery dramatically, not only for DJ but for Masahiro Tanaka and James Paxton as well.  With teams strapped for money due to the revenue, they will lose this season, whether games or played or not, little will be left over to pay free agents the money they thought they might make.

In the case of DJ LeMahieu, he has made it clear that he likes it here in New York and would like to stay a Yankee.  In this writer’s opinion, the Yankees should work during the season to resign him to another two-year extension at the same salary.  With the coronavirus situation, I think DJ would be happy with that, knowing that the monies available will be greatly contracted for free agents.

During the shortened spring training DJ continued to impress, although he was homerless in 10 games, he hit .345 with 10 hits and 3 RBIs.

In an email to the New York Post, DJ told the Post what he has been doing during the shutdown:

“I’ve stayed in Tampa. There was a period for a few weeks where I had to get creative when the [George M. Steinbrenner Field] wasn’t open. But for a good portion of time I have been able to work out at the complex in the mornings,’’ LeMahieu wrote. “I’ve been hitting outside a few days a week. The other days I’ve been getting work in in the cage and working out. We have a good group down here and we are doing our best to make the most of our time.’’

He continued to point out what he has been doing and that he misses his family and playing Yankee baseball against uniformed teams.

“I personally need a week or two of spring training to develop a rhythm and collect live at-bats against pitchers. I would think the pitchers need more time,’’ LeMahieu wrote. “Even though we already had a spring training it’s been two months of relative down time. In many ways I feel like we are kind of starting from scratch.’’

“I haven’t been able to see my parents or extended family,’’ he wrote. “Everyone has been affected one way or another these past few months.’’

“I’ve missed baseball a lot. I can practice every day, but there’s nothing like seeing another uniform across the field and winning ballgames,’’ LeMahieu wrote.

Aaron Boone on the Yankee’s readiness and Cashman on the 2020 season

The New York Yankees manager, who has spent most of his time during the shutdown at his Greenwich, CT home, has not been out of touch with his players.  On the homefront, he has been playing catch with the Yankees newly acquired ace pitcher Gerrit Cole who purchased a home in the same neighborhood.

But he has been in touch with other players as well, including keeping tabs on those players that choose to stay at the George M. Steinbrenner Training complex at Tampa, Florida.  Those players include Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, DJ LeMahieu, among others.  He recently said that all the Yankee players are staying in shape and working out so that when and if a spring training 2.0 can be started, his team will be up and running ready to hit the field.

New York Yankees President Randy Levine and General Manager Cashman have both spoken out this week on the 2020 season.  Both men have made it known that they believe a new season will happen.

“I can’t promise anything, but am I optimistic? I’m optimistic.”  “I am optimistic. I don’t represent the players and the (players’) association. Obviously there’s a lot of hurdles that everyone’s trying to navigate here, and certainly trying to find common ground appropriately with the Players Association is one of those things and obviously the commissioner of baseball and his team are having honest, frank conversations and negotiations … I’m optimistic that where there’s a will, there’s a way.

“We’ve all found ways to adjust and make adjustments. … With this COVID-19 experience moving forward, it’s incumbent upon all of us to find a way. I trust that all leadership will find a way within our industry, just like everybody’s trying to do in their own respective industries as well.”