New York Yankees News/Rumors: The importance of DJ LeMahieu signing or walking has implications

The New York Yankees haven’t kept it a secret that signing the second baseman DJ LeMahieu is its main priority. Unless you have been living under a rock, you have probably read a dozen stories about the subject; you are even tired of hearing about the back and forth, just as much as I am tired of writing about it. The stories continue because the outcome is so important to the Yankees one way or the other.

The Yankees have apparently set it up, so nothing will really happen this offseason until they know the LeMahieu negotiations’ outcome. Since the sides seem to be so far apart in those talks, it’s not likely they will be solved before Christmas, although it would be a wonderful gift for Yankees fans to find under the tree this year. I’m not going to talk about how much DJ wants to return to the Yankees or how far the negotiations are off, but I want to discuss the implications of the signing or lack thereof.

However, back in the cobwebs of our minds, there are pluses and minuses to the event we are all waiting for.  With little money to be spent this offseason, the signing of LeMahieu will leave little money for other needed improvements in the team. If they sign him, the Yankees will have an MVP, Gold Glove-like player back in the lineup for at least the 2021 season. Looking at the situation seriously and not showing bias, it’s tough to tell what would be best for the team as a whole and the chances of reaching a World Series.

General Manager Brian Cashman, who is really tight-lipped and seldom tips his hand, has been more than signing the praises of DJ. LeMahieu.

“I promise you that we’re working on it,” general manager Brian Cashman said of LeMahieu on Wednesday. “He’s a priority. He’s this winter’s priority. The overall priority is to make sure that we somehow find a way to field a team that can push through and ultimately represent the American League in a World Series and find a way to win it.”

If you follow the blogs and Facebook pages, it won’t take you long to find fans saying that Brian Cashman should be fired and Hal Steinbrenner should sell the team. To those questionable Yankee fans, I say, stop it. It doesn’t make sense that the two experienced baseball professionals don’t want to put the best team they can on the field at Yankees Stadium. Hal Steinbrenner, although he has a different style than his father, George, is a smart businessman; he knows that winning brings in revenue and losing doesn’t. But being a smart businessman, he also knows that throwing money at everything doesn’t always solve problems. The Tampa Bay Rays won the division and almost the World series with a payroll less than half of the Yankees.

It’s a delicate balance in finding the right amount of money and developing the talent they have and need to acquire and manage them and keep them healthy. Unfortunately for the New York Yankees, they haven’t been able to keep the team healthy going into the last three seasons. Now it will be even more challenging for the team to achieve their dreams. They have an ace in Gerrit Cole but no one to follow him in the lineup with the experience to win a 162 game season. They lack a fully qualified backstop or shortstop. But the New York Yankees are not alone in their woes as all teams have little money to improve, many teams are making drastic salary reductions.

If the Yankees can not add DJ LeMahieu to the 2021 season, it does give them $30 to $35 million to upgrade the team, assuming they stay below the luxury tax threshold. That amount of money should allow them to get a veteran pitcher to back up Cole in the rotation and pick up some bullpen arms. Changes at short or backstop are not likely. The Yankees also have to beef up the annual salaries for arbitration-eligible players like Judge, Sanchez, and more.

If they can pull off signing DJ, they will keep their strong lineup and keep his presence at second base but will leave them little money to do much else. Both manager Aaron Boone and general manage Brian Cashman have said they are satisfied with all the young arms they have coming up, including Deivi Garcia and Clarke Schmidt. There is no question that they will get their chance this year; how they do will determine the Yankees’ success this year.