With the virtual winter meetings underway, the New York Yankees are reportedly prioritizing the retention of star infielder DJ LeMahieu. Of course, his contract negotiations will be the headlines until he signs a new deal, but there is a snag in the process as LeMahieu desires a five-year contract and the Yankees only want to offer him four.
Per Dan Federico, it is clear that both sides want to come to an agreement, but LeMahieu wants an excessively long deal worth $20+ million per season, and the Yankees are only hovering at four for now.
First tidbit from the virtual Winter Meetings: yes, the Yankees have DJ LeMahieu as their priority and he wants to return. But I'm told it's "far from a slam dunk" he re-signs.
DJ is asking for 5-6 years at $20M+. The Yankees are staying at 4 as of now. That's the hold up
— Dan Federico (@DanJFederico) December 7, 2020
What will the conclusion be? Likely that the Yankees fold and meet at five years, paying a little bit less than DJ would have liked, but a compromise is better than nothing. He wants to settle in the Bronx long term, and it is clear based on his interactions with Aaron Judge and the remainder of the team this off-season. In fact, he even stated that his desire is to stay in pinstripes for a long time, and the Yankees simply canâ€™t afford to lose his services based on his production the past two seasons.
When he signed with the Yankees in 2019 on a two-year, $24 million deal, the Yankees didnâ€™t expect to be getting exponential value. He was always a quality player and above-average fielder, but DJ was always considered an offensive stud due to the stadium in Colorado.
He carried over his success and more to the Yankees, finishing the 2019 season with a .327 batting average, 26 homers, and 102 RBIs. He set multiple career records, mainly in the offensive production category. This past season, he finished with a .364 average, 10 homers, and 27 RBIs. He earned a career-low 9.7% strikeout rate and his best walk right at 8.3% since 2017.
Overall, the Yankees simply canâ€™t afford to lose him unless they are willing to trade for a star shortstop Francisco Lindor of the Cleveland Indians. There are alternatives, but they know what they are getting in LeMahieu, even if the contract is a little bit longer than they wouldâ€™ve hoped. Realistically, thereâ€™s no way the deal ends up as bad as Giancarlo Stantonâ€™s, considering he canâ€™t even play defense anymore and is still on the hook for another seven years.