New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman reiterates that he wants DJ LeMahieu to remain with the Yankees. He said so in many ways while discussing the baseball batting champ on the YES Network’s Yankee Hot Stove. He indicated that they are talking and negotiating with the Wasserman Group, DJ’s agency.
“We have good intentions when it comes to DJ LeMahieu and trying to re-sign him, and I think he has the same on his end,” Cashman said. “Free agency is very complicated and tricky. It’s a competition. The dance and the conversations will continue. We certainly hope for a positive outcome, but it’s also possible that there isn’t one, so we’ll just have to wait and see.”
Apparently out of the blue, before the 2019 season, Cashman acquired DJ LeMahieu from the Colorado Rockies, while fans were advocating for Manny Machado or Bryce Harper, two big-money players that were making all the offseason headlines, both went on to huge contracts, Harper to the Phillies at $330M over 13 years and Machado to the Padres for $300M. Cashman signed LeMahieu for $24M for two years. Cashman was criticized for going cheap on a relatively unknown player to Yankees fans.
As it turned out, the general manager’s selection of LeMahieu was brilliant; LeMahieu has had a better batting average the both of those blockbuster players in both years of his contract. To give you an idea from a business standpoint, the Phillies paid $529K for each hit (51) Harper got during the 2020 shortened season. The New York Yankee paid LeMahieu $169K per hit during the same period, for a far greater number of hits (71).
Looking at the above cost per hit, LeMahieu is an absolute bargain for the Yankees, well worth the $24M contract. Based on those figures, if the Yankees double his salary per year and extend it to 5 years for $120M, it would still be a bargain for the Yankees. That $120M, 5-year contract would probably get the deal done. The hold up is that the Yankees would like a contract more in the area of three or four years at less than the $100M mark. At the end of a 5-year contract, DJ will be 37 years old. Harper, at the end of his contract, will be 39.
The bottom line is that when you get a guy on the cheap, and he drastically over performs based on industry averages, you will have to pay him dramatically more. The New York Yankees have a tremendous advantage in negotiating with LeMahieu; he loves the guys he plays with, he loves the Yankees and playing in the spotlight at Yankee Stadium.
“We’re going to try to keep him here,” Cashman said. “He loves playing in New York, loves playing for the New York Yankees and our fan base, and he clearly loves his teammates. There’s a lot of things in our favor, but ultimately, it comes down to the financial opportunity that we provide, as measured to the financial opportunities that others are providing.”
With the other needs that the Yankees have that don’t seem to be solved at this point, the Yankees must re-sign LeMahieu they don’t want to face him playing for another team. Based on my formula for cost, he is worth every penny he is asking for. Make it happen, and the sooner, the better.