The Yankees, as well they should be, are transfixed with re-signing DJ LeMahieu. Soon, though, attention must be given to the pitching staff.
The Yankees and almost all teams are moving at a snail’s pace this offseason. The free-agent market is in a state of flux as teams pull in the reins on spending following last season’s record losses in revenue.
The Yankees may be kicking themselves for letting the process get this far in signing DJ LeMahieu.
So much hinges (now) on his signing the team is frozen in its tracks until LeMahieu is back in the fold.
Every rumor that surfaces regarding other teams interested in last year’s AL Batting Champion only send more shivers through the Yankees organization.
Today, it’s the Dodgers, who are looking to repeat their World Series win by filling one of the few holes they have at third base, one of three infield positions LeMahieu can play.
Then there are those pesky Mets with newfound money and a generation of fans just waiting for a chance to stick it to the Yankees by stealing LeMahieu and re-igniting the cold war between the teams.
Yankees: LeMahieu Or Not D-Day Awaits
But at some point, the Yankees are going to have to face the ugly truth, DJ or no DJ, that they can win nothing without improving their starting staff.
Of the three, only Tanaka is regularly mentioned as a free-agent the Yankees are interested in re-signing for 2021.
Teams will covet both of them, and if the pattern Brian Cashman continues (think Michael Pineda and Justus Sheffield), at least one will be included in a package deal for a catcher to replace Gary Sanchez.
With Brian Cashman still in tow, the trade market will always be alive. But the quickest path to adding talent to the Yankees will always be the Class of 2021 Free-Agent Starting Pitchers.
Yankees And This Year’s Prize Catch
Unanimously, the prize catch of the year is Trevor Bauer. Still, given last year’s outlay of $324 million to sign Gerrit Cole, plus Hal Steinbrenner’s crying financial wolf this year, the Yankees are, for all practical purposes, beyond the reach of Bauer.
The number two highest-rated free-agent starting pitcher, Marcus Stroman, has already accepted the Mets $18.9 million qualifying offer, and the Atlanta Braves have corraled both Charlie Morton and Drew Smyly with an early offseason burst of wise energy.
But as we know, the big names are not always the best as a fit for teams like the Yankees, but the strategy of waiting for DJ has its consequences.
Yankees: Another Cog In The Wheel Lost Today
Already, today the Chicago White Sox removed another name from Brian Cashman’s whiteboard when they acquired Lance Lynn in a trade with the Texas Rangers during the winter meetings.
Lynn is precisely the type of pitcher the Yankees need to compliment Cole on as an innings-eater veteran with proven recent success.
Lynn is also a pitcher who can balance Garcia and Schmidt’s untested arms and the still medically to be tested arm of Montgomery.
Lord help me and I know better than Lance Lynn is not a likely candidate who will take the Yankees over the top in 2021.
But at the same time, readers of my columns continuously send me comments, essentially saying, “Hey Steve, what’s the rush? It’s not even Christmas”?
But the trouble with that analysis is the open market doesn’t know what day it is.
Moreover, these are the New York Yankees, and the team expected to always be in the vanguard of motion as it relates to free-agent signings, not a team following at the pace of others.
Lance Lynn, as an example only, could have helped the Yankees in 2021. He’s one of those pitchers who “found himself” later in his career, albeit after his brief stint with the Yankees.
Yankees: It’s time To Get The House In Order
It’s not like it’s game over for the Yankees because they lost on Lance Lynn.
But it should be a wake-up call to Brian Cashman that 29 other teams don’t give a hoot about the Yankees’ need to wrap up DJ LeMahieu before the Yankees decide to grace the free-agent market with their royal presence.
The game is on, unless, and it’s possible, Cashman and the Yankees have a well-kept secret plan in motion behind the scenes to fortify the starting staff, then I’m starting to wonder if there is a plan at all.