Masahiro Tanaka and the New York Yankees had had a seven-year marriage that had now broken up when the Yankees failed to give him a one-year qualifying offer. There has been much talk recently that the Yankees will make a play to get Tanaka back, but at a much-discounted price and a much shorter contract. But at the same time, they have made it clear that their number one priority this offseason is retaining DJ LeMahieu at almost any cost. As time goes on, it seems that it will be more costly than the Yankees want, but they will do anything reasonable to keep him in pinstripes.
Everyone knows that the Yankees need pitching help. Still, they also know, as stated by New York Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner that they have lost more money than any other baseball team in the previous season and that he wishes to stay below the luxury tax threshold. Everything seems to hedge on what happens with LeMahieu, and much won’t happen until they know that outcome.
The YES Network’s Michael Kay says that if the costs to keep LeMahieu are too high, you probably will not see Masahiro Tanaka with the Yankees in 2021.
“Their number one priority, the organization wants to sign DJ LeMahieu,” Kay said now, can I sit here and tell you that it’s for whatever cost for however many years? No, I can’t. But that is what they want, and everything else is going to play off of that.
“And from what I’ve heard, if they get LeMahieu — it’s going to cost money — that might be the last big guy they get. So if everybody thinks it’s a fait accompli that Tanaka is coming back, I would really, really not hold my breath.”
Although Kay did not say it in so many words on his ESPN radio show, he seemed to indicate that if they sign LeMahieu, it may be the only big money the Yankees will spend. In other words, the Yankees will go cheap this offseason and hope to patch the pitching rotation together with what they have. The Yankees do have Luis Severino coming back before mid-season, and if they allow Domingo German to come back, they can patch the rest of it together with their young talent. He also thought that if they don’t re-sign Tanaka, they may go the way of the bargain basement for a mid-rotation pitcher.
“If they get (LeMahieu), I think Tanaka is gone,” Kay said. “That’s just my guess because I don’t think the money is going to be there to get Tanaka.
“If they get LeMahieu, it’s going to cost about $20 million (per season) and the days of Tanaka could be over. The Yankees will go with their young pitchers, or they could get somebody on a bargain-basement deal with all the free agents out there.”
However, regardless of what Michael Kay says, and he may be correct, you never know for sure what the secretive New York Yankee general manager Brian Cashman has up his sleeve. Sportswriters and fans alike tend to look at the big acquisitions out there and not the little gems that Cashman surprises us with. The most recent example is DJ LeMahieu. We will have to wait and see how this all plays out.