Yankees: Why wait? Get those contract extensions out of the way

DJ LeMahieu - Yankees MVP 2019 (Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post)

The Yankees have recently been burned twice with contract extensions. Once bitten twice shy is not the Yankees way, and it’s time to jump back into the pool.

The Yankees, like most teams, have a policy – we do not negotiate contracts during the season. Well. As we know, there’s no season.

And what better time is there to ignite the process than now – when there is no baseball, and there are no distractions.

Aaron Hicks, New York Yankees Oft-injured Centerfielder Photo Credit: Pinstripe Alley
Aaron Hicks, New York Yankees Oft-injured Centerfielder Photo Credit: Pinstripe Alley

Detractors will point to the extensions granted to Luis Severino and Aaron Hicks, both of whom have been AWOL with injuries, claiming as a defense – see, I told you so.

But no one could have foreseen what’s developed with Severino and Hicks.

And even in the case of Hicks, who the Yankees have always seemed, from the day they obtained him from the Minnesota Twins, to have a love affair with, you go with your hunches.

But that the point here and now. There is no reason for “hunches” with these players. They are tried and true major league ballplayers. Their character is not of question. And in each case, their value to the team is irrepressible.

Yankees Priority One: DJ LeMahieu 

With little or no argument, DJ Le Mahieu was the Yankees MVP of the 2019 season. LeMahieu racked up a .327/.375/.518 batting line with a career-high 26 home runs in 655 plate appearances while finishing fourth in the AL MVP voting.

Case closed on the numbers, but the fact remains LeMahieu will be a free agent at the age of 31 at the end of the 2020 season, whatever that turns out to be.

Versatility and health on a team ravaged with injuries is LeMahieu’s calling card, but it goes beyond that.

DJ LeMahieu puts his bat on the ball in a Yankees lineup that is built to swing for the fences. But as Aaron Boone reveals, there is something exceptional the Yankees have:

“[T] here’s just something a little bit different that he brings to the room that I think guys are drawn to. Even though he’s not the most vocal guy, I think guys look up to him and enjoy him.” Ken Davidoff, New York Post

Enough said. This guy’s a keeper.

Aaron Judge: Don’t Make Him The Next Derek Jeter

Aaron Judge is THE Face of the New York Yankees. He is the Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, and Derek Jeter of the Yankee’s franchise.

He is wrapped in gold, injuries aside, and the team will have no choice but to reward him handsomely now or very soon. So, why not now?

Derek Jeter - for the cameras - or not? (Photo: pinterest.com)
Derek Jeter – for the cameras – or not? (Photo: pinterest.com)

Mantle and DiMaggio, only by chance, missed the opportunity to cash in big-time during their years with the Yankees.

In the end, there was bitterness on both sides when Jeter and the Yankees stood toe to toe in a round of negotiations that took 13 months to complete before both sides agreed to a $189 million 10-year contract.

And for all the rubby-dubby goodwill seen publicly between Jeter and the Yankees, reality shouldn’t have been anyone’s surprise.

When later, Jeter shunned a future with the Yankees following his retirement in 2014, choosing instead to buy into a team going nowhere in Florida.

Aaron Judge has two passes through arbitration remaining before he qualifies as a free agent at the age of 30.

His current salary of $8.5 million can expect to be tripled via arbitration unless the Yankees bring him into the fold with a Jeter-like extension that eliminates all future squabbling and resentments on either side.

Yankees: Other Extensions For Consideration

Gary Sanchez, please no – forget it. Learn how to catch, show up, and be able to play every day – and then maybe the Yankees can consider an extension.

James Paxton Sidelined 2020
James Paxton Sidelined 2020

But mainly, the Yankees are carrying Gary Sanchez when it should be the other way around.

James Paxton deserves more consideration. Again, the Yankees have a player who is subject to injury. But his arm is sound, and a back injury is not the same as an arm injury requiring Tommy John.

Paxton is a lefty on a starting staff still seeking a replacement for CC Sabathia, and therefore he fits in just fine between Gerrit Cole and Masahiro Tanaka.

A creaky back is worth the chance.

On The Outskirts, But Still Worthy

Looking further out and not likely to be considered for an extension quite yet is Gleyber Torres. Remember, the Yankees played the Kris Bryant game with Torres suspending him in the minors to pick up an extra year of team control.

Gleyber Torres - The Sky Is The Limit (Photo: SNY TV)
Gleyber Torres – The Sky Is The Limit (Photo: SNY TV)

Gleyber Torre’s stock will only rise, and his arbitration years will kill and possibly set records. It’s almost as though the Yankees’ only decision is to pay him now or pay him later.

Character-wise, Torres checks all the boxes. Defensively, he is not yet polished. But again, remember Jeter was never heralded as a premier shortstop in the league either.

Yankees: The Time Is Now

There’s a lull in the 2020 season. Resources (agents, players, Brian Cashman) are available on both sides to open up negotiations on contract extensions that can ease the anxiety of the unknown everyone finds themselves in.

What can it hurt to use the time available now (to talk)?

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Author: stevecontursi

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