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Yankees Slam The Door In Machado’s Face – Welcome DJ LeMahieu

Today, the Yankees took another step to disengage themselves from the Manny Machado sweepstakes by signing another role player. Kudos!

I never believed the Yankees were seriously interested in signing Manny Machado to a long-term deal at the money he is asking for. But they were positively engaged in a game of high-stakes poker, and once again, Brian Cashman proved to be up to the task, in effect leaving Machado cast aside as roadkill.

This comes with the news the Yankees have inked (according to several reports) second and third baseman DJ LeMahieu to a two-year deal worth a reported $20 million. More on that in a minute, but the story today is all about Machado.

Manny Machado, 2019 Free Agent Photo Credit: New York Post (Edited)
Manny Machado, 2019 Free Agent Photo Credit: New York Post (Edited)

Digest the fact that during all the bobbing and weaving between the Yankees and Machado’s camp, the Yankees never put a formal offer on the table. In a fantasy game of poker, that should have been “The Tell” that the Yankees were looking in other directions.

Still, “reports” managed to light up Twitter every ten seconds insisting Manny is coming, Manny is coming. And Machado might again come to the Yankees, but the odds of that happening are just about the same as the Baltimore Orioles winning the World Series.

The Yankees have all the “Superstars” they need on this team. If the tandem of Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and Gary Sanchez isn’t enough, then what is? Bryce Harper – maybe. And don’t let that thought slip away either as the Yankees true intentions continue to be unveiled, perhaps with a contract offered to Harper giving him what he wants with the biggest dollar value contract to date, but also one that is accented with both player and team opt-outs every two or three years in the deal.

Trumping everything, though, is the Yankees need role players like DJ Lemahieu (pronounced la-may-u) and Troy Tulowitzki more than they need another superstar, and especially one like Machado who brings some unneeded baggage he has yet to unload, despite his mea culpa promising never to repeat what we saw in last year’s World Series.

DJ LeMahieu, New York Yankees (Mile High Sports)
DJ LeMahieu, New York Yankees (Mile High Sports)

In LeMahieu, the Yankees are getting a professional ballplayer who will turn 31 in July havin hit .300 or better three consecutive seasons with the Colorado Rockies, including winning the National League batting title in 2015 when he batted .348.

By those standards, LeMahieu had a down season last year, batting only .276 with 15 home runs and 62 driven in. He doesn’t walk a lot (37), but on the plus side, he’s not a big strikeout guy either (82). What he is though is precisely what the Yankees need, which is another role player who can stay healthy while playing four to five times a week.

To Brian Cashman’s credit, he appears to be operating as though Didi Gregorius will not play a single game for the Yankees in 2019. Though unlikely, since Gregorius is expected to be back mid-July or August, Cashman wisely sees the need to plan for the worse scenario. LeMahieu adds that extra dimension to the team in the same vein as Tulowitzki, giving support on the left side of the infield as placeholders until Didi returns.

Gleyber Torres, who was born and raised as a shortstop, remains a wild card the Yankees and Aaron Boone can easily slot him in at that position without missing a beat in case Tulowitzki forgot how to field and hit a baseball during his absence due to injury last season.

I’ve insisted all along this winter that the Yankees were an incomplete team in 2018, and one that finally blew up when they faced the Red Sox, who had contributions coming from everywhere. Where was the Don Mattingly or the Bernie Williams in the Yankees lineup last season? The guy who could find the gap with two out and a runner on second – the professional hitter if you will?

LeMahieu is a player who can step into that role. Daniel Murphy or Jed Lowrie might have been a nice addition for the same reason, but even the Yankees can’t have it all.

Now, if the Yankees want to wrap this thing up and call it an offseason, make a move to sign Marwin Gonzalez, the role-player extraordinaire in the crop of remaining free agents in the Class Of 2019. Because in this game less is never more…

Written by Steve Contursi, Editor, Reflections On Baseball
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