Yankees News: 3 ways they can spend their leftover money from DJ LeMahieu, Corey Kluber signings

New York Yankees, Brian Cashman
Dec 11, 2017; Orlando, FL, USA; New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman reacts as outfielder Giancarlo Stanton (not pictured) is introduced at a press conference at Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees had a busy Friday afternoon, retaining DJ LeMahieu and signing former Cy Young pitcher Corey Kluber. LeMahieu had been a work in progress for quite some time but had been linked to the Los Angeles Dodgers and Toronto Blue Jays, and both teams even made offers.

However, DJs value was far less than expected, as the Yankees eventually settled on six years and $90 million. His contract will pay him out 15 million per season, far below the anticipated $20-25 million.

General manager Brian Cashman played the contract negotiations perfectly, having other teams to enter the fold and lowball DJ. Ultimately, he was able to set the market with his initial offer, and as teams routinely offered less money, the Yankees simply compromised and saved a fortune. At first, they only wanted to settle on four years, but since he was getting such little AAV, they extended the deal to six years and lowered the price per year. That’s also how the Yankees saved regarding luxury tax.

They had $35 million going into free agency — after allocating $15M and $11M to their two big signings (DJ and Kluber), they’re left with around $10M to spend.

Three ways the New York Yankees can spend their leftover money:

1.) Sign Brett Gardner

One option for the Yankees is bringing back Brett Gardner as outfield depth. They had previously rejected his $10 million club option for 2021, choosing to buy him out at $2.5 million. It had already been reported earlier in 2020 that Gardy wanted to play in front of fans in 2021, but that is still up in the air as COVID-19 makes its way through the country. Hopefully, given the vaccines are successful, fans can gradually make their way into the stadiums, allowing Gardner to play one more season with his family in the stands. However, the only way the Yankees and Cashman will likely compromise with Gardy if he accepts a minimal deal.

The team still has holes they need to fill and limited financials, so if Gardner agrees on a $3-4 million deal for one year, they might be able to find an agreement. Otherwise, they have plenty of players in the outfield to survive in 2021 without him.

2.) Land a starting pitcher (Taijuan Walker?)

The starting rotation still needs a bit more assistance since Kluber hasn’t pitched in two years essentially, Luis Severino hasn’t pitched in over two years, and Domingo German hasn’t pitched in over one year. The Yankees are set to rely on three arms that simply don’t have the sample size to back up quality 2021 performances. Adding a pitcher who can contribute right away and finish 2020 healthy might be a good move.

One solid option is Taijuan Walker, who vocally hinted at his desire to join the Yankees on social media the past day.

He pitched for two teams in 2020, finishing with a 2.70 ERA, 8.4 strikeouts per nine, and a 39.1% ground ball rate. He is friends with some of the Yankee players already, so he might prefer to land in the Bronx. Walker will be a bit more expensive than the Yankees would hope, but if they could land him for under $10 million, he could be a fantastic addition.

3.) Add to the bullpen

with Tommy Kahnle electing to Hyatt Regency and signing a contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Yankees do have a bit of a shortage in the bullpen. It’s not for lack of players, but for lack of consistency. Some of them are reliable arms struggled in 2020, but it seems as if Cashman still has faith, they can turn it around. If not, there are a few players can target in free agency: Roberto Osuna, Shane Greene, Brad Hand, and Kirby Yates could all represent solid short-term deals to get the Yankees over the hump.