As the New York Yankees and general manager Brian Cashman play the long game with DJ LeMahieu, they increase their chances of losing him in free agency. If the Yankees really wanted to retain him, they would’ve paid a fair price, as LeMahieu is getting tired of waiting around for a new deal. He wants to know where he’s going to play next season and potentially for the next five years, which is completely reasonable after two stellar seasons in pinstripes. It is no secret that DJ wants to remain with the Yankees, but Cashman playing this game could hurt the relationship.
It has been reported that the Yankees are settled in at four years, while DJ wants a five-year deal. With that being the case, other teams have become a possibility, notably the Toronto Blue Jays and Los Angeles Dodgers.
“I would say that right now, Toronto would be, in my opinion, a real threat. Like, they know that they have to spend a little bit more comparatively to everyone else to get a player like that. If Toronto comes in and says five (years) and $110 million, here’s the J.D.Martinez, (Yoenis) Cespedes deal, is he going to Toronto? Like, this is the issue Toronto has. If I’m going to go to that number, are you going to sign with us? Or are you going to use it against me to bump up the number so that he still ends up a Yankee?”
I expect this negotiation process could take a few more weeks, and while I do think the Yankees will end up keeping him on a compromise deal, they do already have two monster contracts on the books. Both Gerrit Cole and Giancarlo Stanton are signed for at least the next seven years, so adding another long-term player to the mix will significantly hamper their ability down the road in free agency.
One potential replacement if the New York Yankees lose DJ:
If Cashman lets DJ walk, they could inquire about George Springer, formally of the Houston Astros. At 31 years old, he’s younger than DJ and might accept the four-year deal they want to settle on. This past season, he hit .265 with 14 homers and 32 RBIs. However, in 2019, he hit .292 with 39 homers and 96 RBIs. Springer is capable of slugging at a high-level, and the Yankees have ways of improving the home run category for most players.
The only issue, Springer plays in the outfield, where the Yankees already have Aaron Judge, Aaron Hicks, and Clint Frazier. They could replace Frazier and move him to a depth role, but he showed that he can be a regular starting player in 2020.
Nonetheless, it would be extremely hard to replace LeMahieu’s production on offense, and Springer is the only player that could supplement him appropriately.