Following a loss to the Baltimore Orioles in the first game of a three-game series on Friday night, the New York Yankees‘ management may be contemplating a strategy of selling at the trade deadline and revamping for the 2024 season.
Why the Yankees Offloading Salary Could Be a Smart Move
One possible beneficial move for the Yankees could be offloading salary, which brings veteran utilityman DJ LeMahieu into focus. Considering the Yankees are nine games behind in the AL East and 3.5 games back in the Wild Card, trailing the Boston Red Sox and Houston Astros, it would be prudent to extract any future value from a player like LeMahieu.
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LeMahieu’s Season Stats and Contract Situation
At 35 years old, LeMahieu was batting .234 with a .309 OBP this season, comprising eight homers and 28 RBIs. His career-high 22.4% strikeout rate and 9.3% walk rate contributed to his 89 wRC+ this season.
However, in July, LeMahieu improved his statistics, hitting .261 with a .373 OBP, 13 walks, 11 strikeouts, and 18 hits across 69 at-bats. With LeMahieu’s season seemingly turning around, General Manager Brian Cashman might see an opportunity to capitalize on his improved form and consider trading him to lighten future salary commitments.
Yankees’ Shift in Strategy: Younger Players over Aging Veterans
The Yankees cannot continue depending on aging players with hefty salaries. LeMahieu, Giancarlo Stanton, and Anthony Rizzo have underperformed this year. With LeMahieu’s contract due to expire in 2027, the Yankees are still obliged to pay him $15 million per season for the next three years, a commitment they may wish to escape and reallocate the funds. The availability of other free agents in the market next off-season and the prospect of increased cash flow make this an appealing prospect.
The team is in need of an organizational shift, focusing more on younger players with potential rather than aging players signing long-term deals. By the time LeMahieu’s contract expires, he will be 38 years old, older than Josh Donaldson, whose production has significantly dropped off, making him a liability for the team.
LeMahieu’s Value: A Versatile Infielder
Despite LeMahieu’s unimpressive offensive performance this season, his versatility in the infield makes him valuable. He’s played 117 innings at first base, 72 innings at second base, and 507.2 innings at third base, achieving above-average statistics at each position.
Should the Yankees opt to sell at the deadline, they could aim to offload as many high-cost contracts as possible, specifically those of LeMahieu, Rizzo, and even Harrison Bader. Although Bader’s contract isn’t as hefty, his market interest could rise before he becomes a free agent.