The New York Yankees have a long road ahead of them when it comes to signing DJ LeMahieu to a contract extension. Waiting this long has allowed alternative clubs to dip their hand in the mix, including the Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Mets, and Toronto Blue Jays. They could easily lose him in free agency, but the Yankees have made him a priority this off-season and do expect to land him at one point or another.
There is no question that LeMahieu offers significant value to the infield and Yankees as a whole. He recently won the batting title in 2020 with a .364 average. He has two consecutive years in pinstripes with a BA above .300.
â€œThe Yankees knew that DJ LeMahieu was a quality player and other teams will have interest in him, but thereâ€™s also a level that they will go to try and bring him back,â€ Jack Curry said of YES Network stated on the Yankees Hot Stove. â€œIn speaking to someone from the organization recently, they said theyâ€™re in a â€˜wait-and-see mode.â€™â€
This is a very unique situation, given the impact that COVID-19 has had on the league and in the sports world in general. It has pushed the free agency period back quite some time, and we should expect to wait quite a while for anything to materialize.
â€œI think this situation is so much different though because of what 2020 brought and the financial situation that all these teams are in. They are going to wait. An agent told me at the beginning of the offseason that he expected some of his clients to start to panic because they didnâ€™t have deals in place. Well, if you get panicky, you might sign for 80 cents on the dollar instead of signing for the dollar.â€
The New York Yankees have no choice but to wait:
The top of the free-agent market is the first domino, and once it falls, everything will begin to move and grind. The Yankees must wait for one player to succumb to the wild nature of this off-season, but DJ can easily just stay put in New York by waiting, so he has a real advantage in this scenario.
â€œIt seems like all of Major League Baseball are waiting for the big boys to sign contracts,â€ John Flaherty additionally stated on Yankees Hot Stove. â€œThereâ€™s word out coming out now that weâ€™re going have a regular spring training, maybe a full regular season. But thereâ€™s still so much doubt around our game that I canâ€™t blame organizations for holding back a little bit, biding their time and trying to figure out what the right contract is to offer to these players.
â€œI wonder, is it the player whoâ€™s going to blink first? Weâ€™re now into January. Players want to know where theyâ€™re going to be next year, the next four or five years with their families. Whoâ€™s the first guy to say, â€˜Iâ€™m going to sign a contract, I want to get it over with?â€™ Then everybody else is going to snowball.
â€œSo the Yankees are doing the right thing. Theyâ€™re waiting. As painful as that can be, itâ€™s the right move as an organization.â€
Ultimately, there are two sides to the situation, the Yankee side and LeMahieu side. The Yankees waiting allows them to monitor other players, and when the domino begins to fall. In addition, they can also ensure that other clubs arenâ€™t willing to make a superior offer, which would force DJ to compromise in the coming months. For DJ, he wants to wait as long as possible, driving up his price tag and letting other players at the market before he dives in.
Either way, one side is going to have to settle for less than they bargained for.