The New York Yankees number one free agent is DJ LeMahieu. You may have read a dozen articles on his free agency and the probability that he will or will not return to the Yankees. You may be tired of reading about it, but the reason so many articles are written on him is that he is the most important player in free-agency outside of pitchers. He is not only the most important, but he will be the most sought-after acquisition for a bevy of MLB teams.
Several teams have already mentioned him as a prime target. The loudest talkers are the Toronto Blue Jays, the New York Mets, the Boston Red Sox, the Los Angeles Dodgers, the San Franciso Giants, and the dread Tampa Bay Rays. The Rays? Now wouldn’t that be a slap in the face? Regardless of all these teams, LeMahieu’s biggest suitor will be the New York Yankees. If the Yankees lose out on LeMahieu, he won’t go to the Rays; they are too cheap. The likely landing spots would be the Dodgers or the newly cash-flush New York Mets.
The Yankees will do everything in their power to keep DJ in pinstripes. In an offseason that will be cash short, the Yankees made their only qualifying offer to LeMahieu. That offer was for one year at $18.9 million. He is presently at the end of his $24 million two-year contract with the Yankees and has until this Wednesday to accept or reject that offer. The money is solidly on him, rejecting it and testing his value as part of the free-agent market.
Getting back to the New York Yankees, they are coming off a short season that had them rack up the greatest amount of loss that any MLB team endured in the coronavirus season with no fans in the stands. That will make all teams and especially the Yankees cash short in trying to improve their teams. To a degree, it destroys the hopes of most players that have reached free agency of a big payday. It could cause some to take a short term or one-year contracts so they can test the waters when the baseball economy is better.
Other than the losses the New York Yankees have suffered, the Yankees will have to be very careful on how they spend what dollars they have. They and all of baseball have no guarantee there will be fans in the stands next season either, as, at the moment, the coronavirus is running rampant all over the country. That is just one more factor that will cause most lesser teams to spend anything at all.
The New York Yankees do have money to spend, but they need at least one premium pitcher and some help in the bullpen. They may also wish to address the shortstop situation. This will greatly reduce the amount they have to spend on other issues, including re-signing DJ LeMahieu. Most believe that DJ will want near double his present contract, not only in money but also in contract length. DJ has indicated that he likes being in pinstripes and playing in New York. That may give the Yankees an edge in the bidding.
LeMahieu has also talked about having security going forward, as he is now 32 years old and will turn 33 mid-2021 season. According to how important that is to him, he might be willing to accept less for a longer period of time than making quick money. There is no sense in discussing LeMahieu’s worth; he is a finalist for AL MVP, won the batting title, the first to do that in both leagues, and is a Silver Slugger. The fact is the Yankees need and want DJ back and will do everything reasonable to make that happen. But at the same time, the Yankee fans should be prepared for a team to outbid the Yankees.