Whether the New York Yankees sign DJ LeMahieu or not, life will go on, and there will be a 2021 baseball season. However, the outcome of those negotiations could have much to do with what other changes the Yankees can make to a team that needs pitching, both starting and in the bullpen. Even before spring training starts on February 21, it seems the Yankee’s starting lineup is pretty set. Leading off if they can sign him will be DJ LeMahieu, followed by Aaron Judge, Aaron Hicks, Giancarlo Stanton, Clint Frazier, Luke Voit, Gleyber Torres, Gary Sanchez, and Gio Urshela. Of course, if they can’t resign DJ, it could be substantially different. If the Yankees sign Brett Gardner for another year, he most likely will lead off.
At present, it is unclear how many men will be allowed on theNew York Yankees starting day roster, but it will probably be either 25 or 26. According to how many pitchers the Yankees have on the roster for the opening day, that will allow either two or three, bench players. Those players are likely to be Tyler Wade, Mike Ford, and Mike Tauchman. Let’s look at all three and see what impact they could have with the Yankees in 2021.
Mike Ford is the easiest to predict; he will back up Luke Voit at first base. Ford had a pretty lousy season in 2020, which was not uncommon, especially for players who don’t play daily. Ford hit .135 with 10 hits over 74 plate appearances. He also lacked his 2019 power-hitting with only 2 home runs. Still, he is an adequate first baseman. In his first year with the Yankees, he hit .259 with 12 long balls. If he can return to that in 2021, the Yankees will be happy with that performance.
From Mike Ford, the situation becomes far foggier for both Wade and Tauchman. For Tyler Wade, two scenarios could affect his playing time. If the Yankees sign LeMahieu, that would leave Tyler Wade and Thairo Estrada as backups for LeMahieu. If the Yankees don’t sign DJ, they could choose to move Gleyber Torres to second base, his natural position, that would leave Wade to back up whoever is the shortstop, and secondly to back up Torres at second along with Estrada. However, whatever happens, Wade is still the fastest and smartest base runner on the team.
Still foggier is Mike Tauchman’s place with the team.Â Now that Giancarlo Stanton is pretty much the every day DH, that leaves Clint Frazier in left field, Aaron Hicks in center, and Aaron Judge in right field. With the Yankees not taking up Brett Gardner’s option, that leaves Mike as the natural outfield backup for all outfield positions. Frazier has a good injury history, but the Aaron’s don’t. For instance, Hicks has only played in over 100 games in a season twice in his eight-year career. Judge has done a little better playing in over 100 games three of his five years. Complicating Tauchman’s playing time is if they re-sign Gardner, a natural center and left fielder. Adding to the mix, the Yankees just traded for outfielder Greg Allen who can play in all the outfield positions. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that general manager Brian Cashman has been getting calls about Tauchman’s availability.
Like with everything else in this offseason, while the DJ LeMahieu negotiations are at a standstill, it’s hard to know anything about anything until the outcome of those negotiations is known. All three of these players had substantial drops in performance during 2020. Tauchman, for some reason or other, lost all his power. Besides a 35 point drop in his batting average, he hit no home runs in 92 at-bats after hitting 13 in 2019. No matter how much playing time these players get, the New York Yankees hope they will return to a season similar to 2019. If the Yankees have injuries like they had in the last two seasons, these three bench players will see playing time.