Yankees: How the DJ LeMahieu contract situation will likely play out

New York Yankees, DJ LeMahieu
USA Today

This off-season’s biggest storyline will be DJ LeMahieu and how the New York Yankees manage to retain his services in the Bronx. LeMahieu extended his value this past season, winning the batting title, hitting .364 with 10 home runs and 27 RBIs.

After signing a two-year, $24 million deal with the Yankees in 2019, he proved that hitting in Colorado was no fluke — he continued his excellence with the Bombers.

After ranking fourth in MVP voting in 2019, earning an All-Star accolade and the silver slugger award, DJ backed it up with an equally impressive performance during an abbreviated 2020 season. His value has only increased, and the Yankees know how much he means to their infield and as their lead-off hitter.

LeMahieu’s representatives smartly waited until the end of the most recent campaign, as he finished with the best batting average and adjusted OPS+. He ranked fifth-best in errors committed and first at second base. Overall, he was stellar, and the Yankees are utilizing every maneuver they have to keep him in pinstripes.

What does the qualifying offer do for the New York Yankees?

General manager Brian Cashman utilized the qualifying offer on LeMahieu, which makes acquiring him more difficult for a different team. Essentially, if an alternative organization wants to sign LeMahieu, they will have to give up a draft pick to the Yankees as compensation.

This makes negotiating with LeMahieu a bit more tumultuous than before and gives the Yankees a bit of leverage in keeping him on a one-year deal. However, extending him for multiple years is likely more efficient, considering the value he brings to the team both offensively and defensively.

I believe he will reject the qualifying offer and look for an extension by the Yankees or a different team. Given how talented he is and the talent he brings immediately compared to a draft pick, I don’t think the use of the qualifying offer will deter another team.

I fully anticipate the Yankees being put in a position to extend him or letting him walk.