As expected, star infielder DJ LeMahieu is expected to decline the New York Yankeesâ€™ qualifying offer presented to him this off-season following the conclusion of the World Series. Hitting LeMahieu with the offer essentially forces another team to give up a draft selection if they want to sign him, making the loss of LeMahieu a little bit less impactful. However, he is not only their best hitter but also their best offensive weapon. His ability to move around the infield and supplement injuries is invaluable.
The reality is, the Yankees would only be losing their best player, they will be losing one of the best players in the MLB.
Fortunately, they were able to secure him for two years and $24 million back in 2019, but the cheap days are over, and they are going to have to cough up major capital to retain him in the future.
Managing partner Hal Steinbrenner certainly knows his value and what he means to this Yankees team.
â€œI think I wouldnâ€™t be doing my job if I didnâ€™t recognize what a contribution he made to the club and how good of a player he is,â€ Steinbrenner said on â€œThe Michael Kay Showâ€ on ESPN Radio in New York. â€œI recognize both those things. Iâ€™ll leave it at that.â€
The expectation is that LeMahieu will earn somewhere between $20-25 million per season, but with the Yankees trying to stay under the $210 million luxury tax threshold, retaining him might be a bit problematic. Luckily, they have three starting pitchers coming off the books, opening up $52 million in available money. Jacoby Ellsburyâ€™s contract is also providing an extra $21 million, which could be used to sign LeMahieu.
I am quite confident the Yankees will find a way to keep their best player, as letting him go will significantly impact their infield and batting order. Thereâ€™s really only one scenario where letting DJ go is justifiable, and it involves acquiring shortstop Francisco Lindor.
It is also important to mention the threat that new Mets owner Steve Cohen presents. Cohen has stated that he vigorously wants to attack free agency and doesnâ€™t care about spending money as one of the richest owners in the MLB. He just wants to put together something â€œgreatâ€ â€” a team that wins and has all of the players necessary to do so.
The Wilponâ€™s undoubtedly didnâ€™t help the team succeed, but finding the right professionals to put together a squad with unlimited capital to spend will certainly be fun to watch. The Yankees have a new competitor in town and one that is going to steal free agents in the future.