Yankees general manager Brian Cashman suggested last week that the club is intent on re-signing second baseman DJ LeMahieu, who’s their best free agent and one of the few stars on the market. However, it doesn’t appear the two parties are anywhere close to a deal.
Bob Nightengale of USA Today told MLB Network that the Yankees are offering a four-year contract worth $75MM, but he added that LeMahieu is seeking a five-year, $100MM pact. The one-year gap between the two is accurate, but the money is not, a source informed Brendan Kuty of NJ.com. The Yankees and LeMahieu are actually apart by more than $25MM, according to Kuty. Joel Sherman of the New York Post and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic hear the same.
While LeMahieu’s hope is to remain with the Yankees, he isn’t going to limit himself to one team in negotiations, as Rosenthal relays that the 2020 AL batting champion is going to start talking with other clubs. There is widespread interest in the 32-year-old, though some teams are in “why bother” mode with LeMahieu because they expect him to return to the Yankees, per Sherman.
Historically, the Yankees have been able to keep their top free agents when they’ve wanted to, but it could be a different story this winter because of the team’s desire to cut payroll during the pandemic. As Sherman notes, if the Yankees get under the $210MM luxury-tax threshold in 2021, they’d be cutting around $50MM in payroll compared to last season.
Considering his contributions to the Yankees over the previous two years, it’s hard to imagine LeMahieu playing elsewhere in 2021. But it looks quite possible if he and the Yankees can’t reach a reasonable compromise in the coming weeks.