The New York Yankees officially signed star infielder DJ LeMahieu to a six-year, $90 million deal, according to team representatives. LeMahieu, who has produced two fantastic seasons in pinstripes since joining the organization in 2019, will remain a focal point moving forward.
However, his experience during the negotiation process these past few months was “frustrating,” as he noted during a zoom conference on Thursday.
LeMahieu finished the 2020 campaign with a .364 batting average, a league-high. He also tallied 10 homers and 27 RBIs, recording a career-low 9.7% strikeout rate. He seems to continue improving offensively while maintaining his defensive prowess at the same time. His ability to maneuver in the infield makes him an invaluable asset and one the Yankees simply couldn’t afford to lose. Nonetheless, that didn’t stop general manager Brian Cashman from testing his market value and eventually managed to settle on a price far less than most expected.
“For me, I don’t understand why it takes so long,” LeMahieu said of the process.. “I don’t know why we couldn’t get it done two weeks after the season. But I guess that’s the business side and that’s how it is right now… I thought the whole time we could get something done and it wasn’t happening, so I just didn’t know what the heck was going on.”
Clearly, LeMahieu wanted to stay in pinstripes the entire time, as he indicated during an interview following the 2020 season. His interest in other teams seemed to be a tactic by Cashman, who hedged his bet on alternative options offering less than the Yankees. While the Toronto Blue Jays reportedly offered him more per season, they wouldn’t provide him with the years he desired. Locking him in long-term gave the Yankees some additional flexibility in free agency, as it lowered his AAV.
“I definitely had to consider going other places,” LeMahieu said. “I had to put myself in other situations, even though it would have been a really tough page to turn. Thankfully, I didn’t have to.”
Now that LeMahieu’s contract has been settled, Cashman has been active in acquiring starting pitching and resolving their rotational issues following the departure of James Paxton, Masahiro Tanaka, and JA Happ.
It doesn’t seem as if the Yankees are done making moves, but locking in DJ was a priority, and while it did take a bit longer than most anticipated, they managed to secure him on a deal that was more cost-efficient than expected.