The New York Yankees have made their sole priority the re-signing of baseball’s hitting champ DJ LeMahieu while all the other team needs are on hold. However, two months into the offseason and the Yankees have not been able to make that happen. LeMahieu wants more money, and a longer contract than the Yankees want to offer. So as far as we know, the sides are still far apart. Meanwhile, the Toronto Blue Jays and the Los Angeles Dodgers are hovering about their interest in the star.
The Dodger’s interest may have heightened by what the San Diego Padres are doing. In case you don’t follow what all of baseball is doing, you may have missed the Padres have been making a splash during the past week, trading for the Tampa Bay Rays ace, Blake Snell, the Chicago Cubs ace Yu Darvish, and added to that, the signing of SS Ha-seong Kim. Snell and Darvish could be the number one ace on any team. Ha-song Kim is an excellent shortstop.
The question has arisen if the Dodgers who play in the same division are concerned. The Dodgers are World Champions and the Padres last season posted a record over .500 for the first time since 2010. The Dodgers have replied that they are not worried. But you have to believe that the Jaugearnaut that is known as the Dodgers must be in some way concerned when a team in their division vastly improves their chances for a postseason run.
With the Dodgers already interested in LeMahieu, they may be more serious in the upgrade that DJ would be to their club with his hitting ability and infield versatility. Watch out, New York Yankees; the Dodgers have the wherewithal and could swoop in and give DJ what he wants.
What’s the status of the Tanaka/Gardner negotiations?
Two long-time New York Yankees, Masahiro Tanaka, and Brett Gardner, are free agents after Tanaka was not offered a qualifying offer, and Gardner did not have his option taken up by the Yankees. Of all the departing Yankees, these two hold the most promise of returning, yet they are still in limbo after two months.
The Yankee front off has been in contact with both agents. They have told the two that they can’t decide on their return if it’s possible until the outcome of the LeMahieu negotiations is known. The two have use to the Yankees. The starting pitching is lacking, and Tanaka still has value as a number three starter that has been mostly reliable for the Yankees. Gardner, on the other hand, is as good as any reserve outfielder in free agency. Like with every other team need, we will have to wait and see when the Yankees know if they can re-sign DJ LeMahieu.
If the New York Yankees won’t spend, how do they fix the bullpen?
New York Yankee owner Hal Steinbrenner has declared that he wants more than anything this offseason not to spend and stay below the luxury tax threshold of $210 million in payroll. To accomplish that, he has to drop the 2020 payroll by $30-40 million dollars if it’s going to cost him $25 million to resign DJ LeMahieu, which leaves him little money to do anything of significance to improve the starting rotation or upgrade the bullpen.
If the Yankees are going to accomplish either need, they will have to do it via the trade route. That may be the way to go anyway, as three bullpen arms are better than any free agent. Joe Musgrove, Luis Castillo, and Kyle Hendricks all come with multiple seasons of control, and all come from the Central Division of the American League teams from teams with little chance of postseason runs. Although Hendriks would be the most expensive, Luis Castillo is the better fit for the Yankees. If the Yankees want any of these three, they will have to give up prospects that will hurt.
Cheap acquisitions likely won’t get the job done for the Yankees because they need to replace high-quality Tommy Kahnle with a similar if not better arm. They also have to consider that Adam Ottavino, who is in the last year of his contract, may not rebound from his subpar 2020 season. Luis Castillo would add just over $4 million to the Yankee payroll, but they would have control over him until the end of the 2023 season, when he will only be 30 years old.
Photo accompanying this article is of Luis Castillo. EmpireSportsMedia.com’s Columnist William Parlee is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research. Follow me on Twitter @parleewilliam.