Yankees News/Rumors: Another team has entered the mix for DJ LeMahieu

New York Yankees, DJ LeMahieu

The New York Yankees are quickly running out of time to lock and DJ LeMahieu to a long term extension. General manager Brian Cashman is buying his time with the star infielder, who most recently won the batting title in 2020 with a .364 average, 10 homers, and 27 RBIs. He had a career-low 9.7% strikeout rate and career-high .421 on-base percentage. His defense was a bit off this past year, considering the abbreviated 2020 season and a thumb injury limiting his efficiency.

Nonetheless, teams are starting to pick up steam in their hunt for DJ, and three squads have already made contact with his representatives.

Cashman’s plan is clear, allow other teams to enter the fold and see if they bid higher. Ultimately, Cashman believes that DJ is worth a specific amount, and he’s gotten evaluations right in the past. If no other teams are willing to offer five years and $25 million per, Cashman will win the negotiation battle and force LeMahieu to settle for less. The Yankees want him on a four-year deal since they already have Giancarlo Stanton and Gerrit Cole on the payroll for quite some time.

Here are the three teams the New York Yankees are battling for LeMahieu’s services:

The New York Mets have inquired about DJ LeMahieu, according to Jon Heyman:

The Mets recently contacted D.J. LeMahieu, which could set up a New York-New York battle for the Yankees’ best player two years running.

The Blue Jay have made their desire to bring DJ to Toronto known, per ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported:

The Blue Jays, sources said, have emerged as significant players in the LeMahieu sweepstakes — perhaps the biggest threat to him re-signing with the New York Yankees, with whom a significant gap remains.

Now, a new team has entered the mix, and it’s those pesky Los Angeles Dodgers, per Joel Sherman of the NY Post:

LeMahieu’s non-Yankee suitors look a lot like those of Bauer — Mets, Blue Jays and “watch the Dodgers.”

The LA Dodgers have formed one of the best clubs in baseball, considering they traded for Mookie Betts last year and signed him to a long-term deal. They have incredible offensive talent and solid pitching, let alone impressive depth.

With the Yankees struggling to stay within their means financially, the Dodgers have set themself up perfectly for the future and could easily swipe DJ and retain their status as the best team in baseball with ease.

Yankees: DJ LeMahieu could be stolen away by AL East rival

New York Yankees, DJ LeMahieu

Don’t expect the New York Yankees to do much before they make a decision on DJ LeMahieu and his future in pinstripes. Given how long the negotiations have been going on, the Yankees are now allowing competitors to bid on LeMahieu’s services.

The Toronto Blue Jays have now emerged as potential suitors for the star infielder, and one young star for the AL division rival would love to play with the 2020 batting title winner.

“I think DJ LeMahieu is the best hitter in baseball, and I don’t even really think it’s close, from what I’ve seen,” Blue Jays shortstop Bo Bichette said in an appearance on teammate Ross Stripling’s “Big Swing” podcast. “He’s probably the No. 1 player I’d want to play with in the league. If that would happen, that would be awesome for us, but either way, man, our team’s pretty good already.”

ESPN reported on Monday that the Blue Jays “have emerged as significant players in the LeMahieu sweepstakes, and perhaps the biggest threat to him re-signing.”

The New York Yankees are playing a dangerous game:

General manager Brian Cashman is taking an interesting approach toward the extension of LeMahieu, waiting for other teams to bid and hopefully drive his price down. Cashman has clear instructions to save as much money as possible. While everybody wants “The Machine” to remain in Pinstripes, allowing other teams to enter the fold will allow Cashman to gauge his monetary value and ensure he doesn’t overpay for his services. This could also backfire as the Yankees desperately want to retain him, but waiting could actually drive up his cost; in the scenario, another team commits big-money to singing him.

You could make the argument that the Yankees are playing a dangerous game, but either way, they will be spending big money on DJ or a starting pitcher. If no other teams are willing to bid as high as the Yankees, they will force DJ’s representatives to compromise. Revisiting his numbers from 2020, DJ posted a .364 batting average with 10 homers and 27 RBIs. He had a career-low 9.7% strikeout rate and career-high .421 on-base percentage.

Things are starting to pick up with negotiations, so I expect the Yankees to make a final decision by mid-January.

New York Yankees: Two AL East foes interested in JA Happ

New York Yankees, J.A. Happ

Two AL East foes have shown interest in former New York Yankees pitcher JA Happ — the Boston Red Sox and the Toronto Blue Jays.

Happ, 38, spent the last two and a half seasons with the Yankees. The team acquired him from the Blue Jays prior to the 2018 trade deadline, and unfortunately, never panned out. Although he pitched well in the back half of the 2018 season (a 2.69 ERA in 63.2 innings), his output in the two seasons after wasn’t what was expected of him in his new deal.

Before the 2019 season, the Yankees inked him to a two-year, $17 million deal with a vesting option for 2021. Happ turned in a 4.91 ERA in 2019, seeing his velocity and effectiveness dip. His WHIP stood at 1.295 while allowing nearly nine hits and two home-runs per nine innings.

After a rough start in 2020, Happ finally settled in an had a few really good outings. He finished with a 3.47 ERA and a 1.054 WHIP, ending as one of the Yankees most consistent pitchers.

Unfortunately for Happ, he didn’t meet the requirements for his vesting option. With the pandemic-shortened season, he needed to make ten starts, but fell just short of that number at nine.

That makes him a free-agent this winter, and he’s drawing significant interest despite his age. The Yankees don’t seem interested in Happ, but he could fit well in Boston and Toronto.

Both teams aren’t really postseason-caliber, and could use starting pitching. Happ is familiar with Toronto, being that he’s played there before. Additionally, he’s been really solid at Fenway Park over his career, making Boston a good possibility for him.

There’s a good chance JA Happ will pitch in the AL East in 2021, but it likely won’t be with the Yankees.

 

 

New York Mets: Offense Held Silent in 3-2 Loss to Blue Jays

Amed Rosario, New York Mets

The New York Mets could not produce the same way the did in their 18-1 victory on Friday night. All the Blue Jays needed were three runs off Seth Lugo to secure themselves a 3-2 victory to even up the series at one game apiece

Lugo was dominant through the first three innings of his start. He held the Blue Jays to a single and struck out four. The following 2.1 innings had a different story for Lugo as he seemed to progressively lose steam and the feel for his curveball as his pitch count rose.

Lugo gave up a run in each of the last three innings he pitched along with six hits. His curveball hung in the fourth inning and struggled to a point where he barely used it for the rest of the start. His velocity also sat around 92-94 with the occasional 95. It was not a great start for Lugo, but it certainly put the Mets in a position to win.

Ray Too Much to Handle

One year ago, Robbie Ray did not get out of the first inning against the Mets. It was the only bad start Ray has made against them and he found his groove early. Ray held the Mets to one run over five innings and struck out five. His money pitch was his slider and used it often as he got deeper in his start. The start was much needed for Ray and lowered his season ERA to 6.85.

Jake Marisnick provided the only run off Ray with a double in the fourth inning. Unfortunately later in the game, Marisnick had to leave the game with right hamstring issues. It was the same injury that kept him sidelined early in the season.

The only other run came on a gift when Joe Panik fumbled a double play transfer allowing Wilson Ramos to score in the seventh inning.

Amed Rosario had a good game with three hits but he showed once again why he is not an everyday player. After getting first base with a gift wild pitch strikeout, he fails to advance on a ball in the dirt then proceeds to get picked off to end the game with the red hot Jeff McNeil at the plate.

A pair of lefties square off in a 3:07 p.m. ET start time as David Peterson faces Hyun-Jin Ryu in the final game of the series.

New York Mets: 10 Run Fourth Inning, Gives deGrom Plenty in 18-1 Win

Worrying about the New York Mets providing Jacob deGrom run support seems to be a thing of the past. Their 18-run effort gave more than enough for their two-time Cy Young winner in the 18-1 win over the Toronto Blue Jays.

deGrom did not have his best command but put up deGrom-like numbers. He threw six innings, holding the Blue Jays to one run on three hits with nine strikeouts. deGrom continues to make a strong case for a third consecutive Cy Young award as his ERA dropped to 1.67.

Erasmo Ramirez picked up the rare three-inning save in relief of deGrom. Ramirez held the Jays offense scoreless on two hits and only threw 30 pitches in the effort. His ERA is 1.13 through his first eight innings with the Mets.

Relentless Offense

Vladimir Guerrero Jr.‘s RBI single in the first inning was the only bright spot for the Blue Jays. After that, the Mets got things going with four runs in the third inning, highlighted by a Michael Conforto three-run home run.

The offense went bezerk in the fourth inning with ten runs. J.D. Davis started things off with an RBI fielders choice, then Dominic Smith hit a grand slam to break the game open to 9-1. Wilson Ramos contributed a three-run double, making it 12-1. The final two runs of the inning came in on a Conforto single, and Davis double.

Every starter in the lineup recorded a hit other than Pete Alonso. McNeil, Ramos, and Robinson Cano led the way with their three hits. 8 of the Mets 19 hits were for extra bases, and those same numbers (8-for-19) are how they hit with runners in scoring position.

The Mets hope to put up another similar offensive output with Seth Lugo on the mound for the second game of the series. Toronto has not named their starter for game two, but game time is 6:37 p.m. ET from Buffalo.

 

New York Mets Series Preview: Toronto Blue Jays (9/11-9/13)

New York Mets, Pete Alonso

The New York Mets head up to Buffalo to take on the Toronto Blue Jays in a three-game weekend series. Toronto comes off taking two of three from the New York Yankees, while the Mets come off a two-game split against the Baltimore Orioles.

Probable Pitching Matchups

Friday, (9/11) @ 6:37 p.m. ET: Jacob deGrom (3-1, 1.69 ERA) vs. Chase Anderson (0-0, 4.94 ERA)

Saturday, (9/12) @ 6:37 p.m. ET: Seth Lugo (2-2, 2.05 ERA) vs. TBD

Sunday, (9/13) @ 3:07 p.m. ET: TBD vs. TBD

Friday’s game comes on the 19th anniversary of the tragic World Trade Center attacks. For the first time in over a decade, the Mets are allowed to wear first responder hats during the game. This is a movement led by Pete Alonso, who led the team to wear commemorative cleats on 9/11 during the 2019 season.

Ride deGrom Out

It is no secret to how poor the Mets starting pitching has been this season. The main reason they do not sit dead last in the National League in rotation ERA is due to Jacob deGrom’s greatness. His 1.69 ERA is first in the NL and second in all of baseball. Manager Luis Rojas lined up his rotation to squeeze out as many starts as possible for deGrom, and the Mets will need those in order to make the playoffs.

Seth Lugo has not started as many games as deGrom but is another anchor to the Mets rotation. The Mets lined him up to pitch after each of deGrom’s start to get the momentum going. It is much better than having deGrom throw a gem then watch a mediocre starter allowed five runs the following night.

As for the Blue Jays, their lineup packs a mighty punch. They are second in the American League in home runs, fourth in RBIs, and fourth in hits. They are led by Teoscar Hernandez, who is slashing .308/.358/.637, with 14 home runs and 27 runs batted in. Hernandez’s slugging percentage is third in the AL behind Nelson Cruz and Mike Trout. Luckily for the Mets, Hernandez is currently on the injured list.

Key Statistics

Joe Panik vs. Jacob deGrom: 3-for-19 (.158), Double, 3 Walks, 5 Strikeouts

Michael Conforto vs. Chase Anderson: 2-for-11 (.182), 2 Home Runs, 2 Walks, 3 Strikeouts

First Pitch Swings Against deGrom in 2020: 5-for-59 (.085), Double, Home Run, 23 Strikeouts

Seth Lugo As a Starter in 2020: 1-0, 1.54 ERA, 11.2 IP, 20 Strikeouts, 4 Walks

New York Yankees: Three Must See Regular Season Series

New York Yankees, DJ LeMahieu

The New York Yankees play plenty of tough regular season series against challenging teams, but there are some that you just don’t want to miss. Here are three to circle on your calendar:

April 2-5: Toronto Blue Jays

This series is the first home series for the Yankees. They play on the 2nd, 4th, and the 5th at 1pm. The 3rd is the rainout date for the 2nd. Fans will have their first opportunity to see new players for the first time. Assuming that Gerrit Cole pitches on opening day, he will be in line to pitch the final game against the Blue Jays or the first game against the Orioles (the 6th).

Fans will also have an opportunity to see some great young talent on the Blue Jays. Though they kill the Yankees, guys like Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, and Cavan Biggio are very fun to watch.

June 26-28: Chicago Cubs

The Cubs come to town early in the year with a new manager (David Ross) and just the fact that they are in the NL. You only have an opportunity to see an NL Central team at home every six years, so take advantage of it. They will be towards the top of the National League again.

Kris Bryant, Javy Baez, and Anthony Rizzo are also fun players to watch, and it should be a really fun series.

September 21-24: Houston Astros

The Astros come to town at the end of the season, and this should be the most entertaining series of the year. Not just that both teams are stacked, but Gerrit Cole faces his old team and it will be the first time that the Yankees are facing them at home since the cheating scandal.

It’s gonna be sold out at the Stadium, and fans aren’t going to let the Astros hear the end of it. Should be highly entertaining.

I didn’t put any of the Red Sox series down because they faceoff 19 times per year. No series will be astronomically different from the usual rivalry antics.

 

Former New York Mets Joe Panik Signs with Blue Jays

New York Yankees are looking into New York Mets' Joe Panik.

Veteran Giants second baseman Joe Panik made the transition to the hometown New York Mets for the last couple of months in 2019. With the Mets infield full, he has moved above the border to attempt to resurrect his career with the Toronto Blue Jays.

Panik spent 39 games in Queens, where he hit .277/.333/.404 with two home runs and 12 runs batted in. The Mets signed Panik after Robinson Cano went down with a hamstring injury, and the Giants let him go at the perfect time for the Mets to scoop him up.

Third Team in Less Than a Year

Panik once was a staple of the Giants championship-caliber infield. His stats fell off after his All-Star season in 2015, and the deep alleys of Oracle Park did not play well Panik’s lack of power. Panik’s hard contact percentage increased over the last four seasons while his strikeout rate remained consistent.

Bo Bichette and Cavan Biggio have the middle infield spots locked down, but Panik’s veteran presence will be a good influence for a Blue Jays team on the rise. He can step into the role Eric Sogard played in 2019, where he resurrected his career and discovered the power in his bat. The signing is also a good backup plan in case Biggio runs into a sophomore slump this season.

New York Yankees: What Lies To Start The Second Half

New York Yankees, Didi Gregorius

The New York Yankees open up the second half of the 2019 season on a 10 game homestand against three different teams. All three teams are in different directions. One is well under .500, one is at about .500, and one is well over .500.

Toronto

The team starts off by taking on Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and the Toronto Blue Jays for three games. The Blue Jays are at 34-57. We honestly don’t know who will start the games for either team. Because of the all-star break, teams can alter their rotation as needed.

It probably wouldn’t be Masahiro Tanaka on Friday since he pitched in the all-star game. We likely wouldn’t see him until the weekend.

Tampa

Afterwards, the Tampa Bay Rays return to town for yet another series. They sit at 52-39 and 6.5 games back from the Yankees for first. The Yankees will see Yonny Chirinos and Blake Snell in two of the games, and probably a bullpen game in the third.

Colorado

To finish the 10 game homestand, Nolan Arenado and the Colorado Rockies come to town for some interleague action. Colorado sits at 44-45, but is still well in the postseason picture. This will be the first time DJ LeMahieu and Adam Ottavino face their old team. No starting pitchers have been listed yet.

It’s crucial that the Yankees get off to a hot start in the second half to pull away in the AL East.