On Why The Yankees Offseason Is On Hold Until DJ LeMahieu Decides

The Yankees 2021 White Whale - DJ LeMahieu (Newsday)

The Yankees offseason begins with DJ LeMahieu, and from there, a series of dominoes affecting other players will fall into place. Until then…

The Yankees are holding their breath awaiting DJ LeMahieu‘s yes or no answer to the team’s qualifying offer that will keep LeMahieu in pinstripes for the 2021 season with a salary of $18.9 million.

Yankees await the call from DJ LeMahieu.

A decision is due by tomorrow at 5 pm EST. If LeMahieu rejects the offer, he becomes an unrestricted free agent. The team that signs him forfeits a first-round draft pick in June to the Yankees.

Aside from the fact, the Yankees have been transparent regarding the value they place on LeMahieu’s versatility and production over the past two seasons, he holds the key to the team’s offseason.

If the offer is rejected, the Yankees can’t afford to wait around if, as expected, several teams line up in the bidding for LeMahieu.

Exploring The Scenarios: LeMahieu Accepts The Yankees Offer

Given the Yankees already precarious team payroll situation regarding the $210 million luxury tax limit this year, the ideal outcome for the team is that LeMahieu accepts the offer, relieving the team from joining the scramble to sign him on the open market.

Yankees Luke Voit: Aaron Boone - "Where would we be without him?"
Yankees Luke Voit: Aaron Boone – “Where would we be without him?”

Although LeMahieu can play first, second, or third base more than adequately, ideally, the Yankees would benefit from solidifying their infield.

Aaron Boone, with LeMahieu on the team, is free to assign him as the regular first or second baseman.

If Boone opts for LeMahieu as his regular first baseman, this opens up the Yankees’ opportunity to trade Luke Voit.

It’s not likely the American League’s home run king in 2020 will ever have a higher trade value than Voit has now, and a deal with, for instance, Miguel Andujar included could yield the Yankees a proven major league starting pitcher.

The dominoes continue to fall as the Yankees would then have the option of moving Gleyber Torres back to second base, where his defense is decidedly better than at shortstop, where he led the league in errors this year.

The Yankees will look to the field of available shortstops to fill the void left by Torres. The Big Bang theory goes to Francisco Lindor, who is likely to be traded by the Cleveland Indians.

Again though, Lindor spells big money on a long-term deal plus a bunch of Yankees prospects Brian Cashman will not want to subtract from an already understocked farm system.

Yankees: Still More Options

Didi Gregorius - gone forever? (Photo: New York Post)
Didi Gregorius – gone forever? (Photo: New York Post)

Although Didi Gregorius recently took the Yankees and (specifically) Aaron Boone to task for their unbending belief in and use of analytics, he did not close the door on a return to the Bronx.

A fan favorite, Brian Cashman, is still asked today why he let Gregorius “getaway” to the Phillies and Joe Girardi during the offseason last year.

Thirty-year-old Adrelton Simmons is a free agent shortstop the Yankees can also pursue as a free-agent. Simmons suffered a severe ankle break that limited his production last year, plus he mysteriously opted out of the last five games of his season with the Angels.

But his glove and bat are plus-plus when healthy. Again though, he reached a high level of $15 million in salary last year, and his price is something the Yankees will consider before leaping.

Yankees Didi Gregorius and Gleyber Torres: A team intact no more
Yankees Didi Gregorius and Gleyber Torres: A team intact no more

On the other hand, what can’t be weighed is Simmons’ anxiousness to escape the lowly Angels to a team like the Yankees, where he’ll be assured of playing in October.

Still, another option is open to the Yankees. This involves keeping Gleyber Torres at shortstop for another year while filling the hole at second with a reliable but inexpensive player.

That shortlist, according to Spotrac, might include veterans like Jonathan Schoop (29), Jurickson Profar (28), or Joe Panik (30), a local boy from nearby Hopewell Junction, NY.

Yankees: It All Depends On You, DJ

If LeMahieu declines the offer and ends up elsewhere, Luke Voit becomes less of a chance to be traded – unless the Yankees believe Mike Ford, off-year and all, is ready to step in full-time at first base.

Attention then moves to the issue of what to do with Gleyber Torres, and whether he stays at shortstop or moves to second base, creating a hole for the Yankees to fill either way.

No matter what position Torres plays next year, the Yankees will be keeping a trained eye on him at all times.

Reported to be out of shape, the Yankees were openly disappointed by Torres’s inability to “stay in the game” when on the field. Numerous base-running blunders, together with misplays on throws and indecisiveness when chasing down fly balls in the shallow outfield, create a need for Torres to bounce back in 2021 – or else!

Yankees Have Even Another Option

If you require even more complications, try this one that is surely not escaping the attention of Brian Cashman.

Next year’s Class of 2022 Free-Agent Shortstops will include Corey Seager, Carlos Correa, Trevor Story, and Francisco Lindor.

The Yankees thinking there then becomes stumbling through next season at shortstop, keep the payroll down this year allowing Hal Steinbrenner to recoup some of the revenue losses incurred this past season – and then go all out to sign any of these talented All-Stars.

But any way you look at it, it all begins with DJ LeMahieu.


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Author: stevecontursi

I am an amateur writer with a passion for baseball and all things Yankees and Mets.