Yankees: DJ LeMahieu could be stolen away by AL East rival

New York Yankees, DJ LeMahieu
Aug 29, 2020; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees second baseman DJ LeMahieu throws the ball to first base for an out during the first inning against the New York Mets at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Don’t expect the New York Yankees to do much before they make a decision on DJ LeMahieu and his future in pinstripes. Given how long the negotiations have been going on, the Yankees are now allowing competitors to bid on LeMahieu’s services.

The Toronto Blue Jays have now emerged as potential suitors for the star infielder, and one young star for the AL division rival would love to play with the 2020 batting title winner.

“I think DJ LeMahieu is the best hitter in baseball, and I don’t even really think it’s close, from what I’ve seen,” Blue Jays shortstop Bo Bichette said in an appearance on teammate Ross Stripling’s “Big Swing” podcast. “He’s probably the No. 1 player I’d want to play with in the league. If that would happen, that would be awesome for us, but either way, man, our team’s pretty good already.”

ESPN reported on Monday that the Blue Jays “have emerged as significant players in the LeMahieu sweepstakes, and perhaps the biggest threat to him re-signing.”

The New York Yankees are playing a dangerous game:

General manager Brian Cashman is taking an interesting approach toward the extension of LeMahieu, waiting for other teams to bid and hopefully drive his price down. Cashman has clear instructions to save as much money as possible. While everybody wants “The Machine” to remain in Pinstripes, allowing other teams to enter the fold will allow Cashman to gauge his monetary value and ensure he doesn’t overpay for his services. This could also backfire as the Yankees desperately want to retain him, but waiting could actually drive up his cost; in the scenario, another team commits big-money to singing him.

You could make the argument that the Yankees are playing a dangerous game, but either way, they will be spending big money on DJ or a starting pitcher. If no other teams are willing to bid as high as the Yankees, they will force DJ’s representatives to compromise. Revisiting his numbers from 2020, DJ posted a .364 batting average with 10 homers and 27 RBIs. He had a career-low 9.7% strikeout rate and career-high .421 on-base percentage.

Things are starting to pick up with negotiations, so I expect the Yankees to make a final decision by mid-January.

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