The New York Yankees are taking it slow this offseason, and it might soon cost them star free agent DJ LeMahieu.
One was expected. Stay in shape to avoid injuries. The other, however, was for the franchise to remember who it was: the biggest dog in the yard when it comes to spending.
Well, Yankees fans, it’s not even two weeks into 2021, and guess what? The New York Yankees are on the verge of failing a beloved player, their fans, and, most importantly, themselves.
Allow me to explain further. According to Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports, DJ LeMahieu has grown “dismayed” with the Bronx Bombers’ approach to him this offseason. As a result, he has asked his agent to engage with other teams who have reached out, including the crosstown rival New York Mets.
Now, I just have one question for the Yankees and general manager Brian Cashman: WHAT ARE YOU DOING????
We all knew this once the Yankees were eliminating the playoffs re-signing DJ LeMahieu was the club’s top priority. Now, instead of using common sense and paying him what he’s worth, Cashman seems more than happy to keep waiting.
Well, guess what? This isn’t a game anymore. LeMahieu has made that VERY clear. Something has to change fast, or the Yankees may lose the player who has arguably been their MVP the last two years.
No more excuses
First things first, the slow offseason is not exclusive to DJ LeMahieu. COVID-19 losses have been so high across the board that no teams have really made any big free agency splashes. Save for closer Liam Hendriks signing with the Chicago White Sox on Monday night, the market has practically been in hibernation.
And I’ve thrown out tons of Yankees related numbers I won’t rehash now. We all know what Forbes valued them at. We know they have a high payroll because they’re not shy about writing the big checks. Yet, they claim to have lost the most money out of all teams in 2020
Sorry, but that’s not a valued excuse anymore. Shortly before I started writing this blistering critique, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred told owners to expect a 162-game season. Not only that, but longtime MLB insider Jon Heyman reported the San Diego Padres are looking to give Fernando Tatis Jr. an extension “in the 10-year range.”
Oh, and do I need to mention Mookie Betts and the 12-year extension he got from the Los Angeles Dodgers last summer?
Needless to say, the New York Yankees have some soul-searching to do.
Who steps up?
And as a further reminder, what is the Yankees’ plan if DJ LeMahieu signs with another team? He’s hit .336 with 36 home runs and 129 RBI in pinstripes while posting a 7.9 WAR, all in just two years. He won the AL batting title last year and is a strong fielder at three infield positions.
Who takes over if he leaves? Tyler Wade? Okay, he’s quick and versatile, but isn’t a proven hitter. Thairo Estrada is little more than a utility infielder, same as Wade. Trading for Francisco Lindor is no longer an option and was probably a long shot before the Mets landed him.
The New York Yankees know they need DJ LeMahieu. He’s been pretty clear that he wants to return to the team.
Given other teams’ collective interest in the man, you’d think the Yankees would show more urgency in re-signing him.
The most frustrating part of all this is that Cashman is smart enough that he knows how much the Yankees need LeMahieu. Losing him would be a mistake worse than the entirety of Roger Dorn’s ownership of the Cleveland Indians.
And yet, the Yankees continue to play their hand slowly. Maybe they have an ace up their sleeve, but waiting for it is beyond frustrating. Even with COVID losses, one would think the team would be more aggressive in re-signing talent, especially DJ LeMahieu.
But let’s go back to the San Diego Padres and their rumored Tatis extension. Per Spotrac, the Padres’ payroll ranked 11th in MLB last year and 24th in 2019. San Diego is obviously a smaller market than New York, and yet the Padres are still spending.
Look, I’ve defended Brian Cashman six ways to Sunday because this episode aside, he’s pretty great at his job. He acquired Giancarlo Stanton for pennies on the dollar. A few years back, he managed to land Sonny Gray for three prospects, two of whom were out with season-ending injuries.
But now, the Yankees are playing the worst game of chicken. Losing DJ LeMahieu is a real possibility now, and yet the team seems more than happy to take that risk.
And if LeMahieu does sign with another team? Well, that really merits only one response.
Shame on the front office, shame on Brian Cashman, and shame on the New York Yankees.