Yankees rumors/news: A clear plan if the Yanks lose out on DJ LeMahieu in free agency

New York Yankees, DJ LeMahieu

As the DJ LeMahieu situation unfolds, it’s becoming clear that the New York Yankees don’t want to offer him a five-year deal that could lock him up until he is 38 years old. The Yankees still have to worry about Giancarlo Stanton’s contract, Aaron Judge, and Gleyber Torres down the line. That is not to mention Gerrit Cole and his massive deal they signed last off-season.

The unthinkable could happen for Yankee fans, LeMahieu could join a division rival or head to the West Coast for the remainder of his prime. However, he desires to stay in the Bronx with the Yankees, given how well he’s played the last two seasons since joining them in 2019.

This past campaign, LeMahieu won the batting title at 32 years old, hitting .364 with 10 homers and 27 RBIs. He had a career-low 9.7% strikeout rate and walked 8.3% of the time.

Re-signing him should be an easy decision, but the Yankees are trying to stay away from potentially ill-advised long term deals. However, the argument can be made for LeMahieu, who is one of the purest hitters and fielders in the MLB. He has been consistent at every turn and deserves a long-term deal, whether the Yankees want to offer him five years or not.

Watch the New York Yankees do if they lose out?

Plans after LeMahieu should be very simple, and it involves Cleveland Indians star shortstop Francisco Lindor. The Indians are reportedly shopping him with one year left of player control. Acquiring him from Cleveland will be extremely difficult, as they will want starting level talent and prospects in the deal.

Shopping Miguel Andujar and some high-level prospects could work out for the Yankees, but they will have to sign him to an extension immediately. At 27 years old, he has plenty of years left of quality baseball, and considering he will be LeMahieu’s age in five years, he actually might be a better move.

If the Yankees don’t want to budge, their consolation prize is a player who hit 32 home runs in 2019 and is one of the best defensive shortstops in baseball. This past year, he played in 58 games with a .995 fielding percentage and just one error. He would be a massive upgrade over Torres, who struggled with routine balls on a daily basis. In addition, it would allow Torres to move back to second base, a spot where he’s more comfortable.

Theoretically, acquiring Lindor and letting LeMahieu walk would cost the Yankees some extra pieces, including depth and prospects. However, his long-term value might offer more at a slightly elevated price point after control ends in 2022.

General manager Brian Cashman is navigating an interesting situation, but there are multiple ways he can go to the Yankees walk away with one of the best players in baseball.