The Yankees have not been shy about their dire need to sign DJ LeMahieu. But you know what they say about putting all your eggs in one basket…
While the Yankees remain the favorite to sign free-agent DJ LeMahieu, the days keep ticking by, and there is still no deal in place.
Other teams like the New York Mets and Toronto Blue Jays have hinted at joining the sweepstakes to land this multi-talented, one-of-a-kind player.
While the Mets, even with the loss of Robinson Cano, have no immediate need for LeMahieu, as always, their ace in the hole is to act as a disruptor to anything their cross-town rival Yankees are trying to do.
Similarly, the Blue Jays are in the game, knowing they are more than one key player away from seriously contending in the AL East. Thus, their appeal to LeMahieu may or may not be diminished. Not to mention the prospect of Buffalo as home base for the Jays again.
While it’s not likely that LeMahieu, who has spoken many times about the good feelings he has for the Yankees, their fans, and playing in New York, is intentionally holding the Yankees up for ransom, nevertheless, he appears to have the team spellbound and paralyzed.
Yankees And The LeMahieu Domino Effect
Two weeks ago, I chronicled the numerous ways the Yankees’ offseason hinges on the signing of DJ LeMahieu. Nothing has changed since then, and as each day passes, the cause for alarm increases as other teams prepare to act quickly in filling their needs.
With LeMahieu signed and available to fill the bulk of his time at first base, the opportunity to trade Luke Voit for a proven starting pitcher becomes real.
Voit’s value will never be higher, and while the Yankees have no expressed interest in trading Voit, the AL Home Run King in 2020 and finisher in the Top Ten of the MVP balloting, sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.
LeMahieu, ever-versatile, also affords the Yankees the chance to make a much-delayed decision on the future of Miguel Andujar, who would no longer be needed as a backup to Gio Urshela at third base.
Conversely, with LeMahieu gone to another team, Voit for sure and Andujar a probable both remain with the Yankees, with defensively challenged Gleyber Torres at shortstop moving back to second base.
This move leaves the Yankees and Brian Cashman with the option of negotiating a popular fan counter-move by bringing back Didi Gregorius, or filling the gap for one year, and waiting for next year’s Class of 2022 Free-Agent Shortstops will include Corey Seager, Carlos Correa, Trevor Story, and Francisco Lindor.
Still, everything comes back to DJ LeMahieu.
The Calendar Also pressures Yankees
On another front, the calendar is moving in on the Yankees. By December 2, a week from tomorrow, the Yankees must render a contract to all players on their 40-man roster who are not currently contracted.
Most notably, this includes Gary Sanchez, who, if not retained, opens the door for the Yankees to sign free-agent James McCann as their full-time catcher for 2021 and beyond.
Additionally, the Yankees will need to tender contracts to Oswald Peraza, Alexander Vizcaino, Roansy Contreras, and Yoendrys Gomez, all of whom were added to the Yankees’ 40-man roster ahead of their first year of Rule-5 eligibility.
Yankees And The Need To Reach The Finish Line Soon
DJ LeMahieu is represented by Excel Sports Management, a powerhouse in the field with $3.6 billion in active contracts throughout all professional sports.
Excel’s baseball client list includes Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, and Jason Heyward, while its golf division is headlined by one of the biggest names in all of sports: Tiger Woods.
Interest in their client is growing daily. Just yesterday, the Milwaukee Brewers and Washington Nationals announced their interest in pursuing LeMahieu. While neither has the Yankees’ financial clout, precious time is lost while Excel and DJ consider their proposals.
This one is beyond Brian Cashman’s job description, and ultimately Hal Steinbrenner will need to give the go-ahead for the Yankees to outbid everyone (now), even if it means matching the deep pockets of Steve Cohen and the Mets.
Doing so means, of course, that Steinbrenner needs to overrule himself by going well beyond the 2021 team payroll limit of $210 million with the likelihood of paying a hefty luxury tax at season’s end.
The Yankees aren’t used to being backed into a corner, but this time they’ve done it to themselves.