It may be a new year, but it’s been more of the same for the Yankees in the early going. Apologies to Greg Allen, but nothing of note has happened with this team this winter. We’re still waiting for the verdict with DJ LeMahieu and all of the other needs on the roster. So with that in mind, let’s get back up to speed with where the Yankees stand. I have some notes on LeMahieu and those negotiations’ implications, the Allen trade, and the organization’s payroll and roster status.
It all hinges on DJ LeMahieu
One thing we’ve heard a lot this winter: the Yankees want DJ LeMahieu back and won’t do anything else of significance until that’s resolved. At some point there will be a resolution…right?
This very well could be a tactic to force the Yankees’ hand, but Yahoo’s Tim Brown reports that LeMahieu is dismayed with the Yankees’ pursuit. So am I! There’s apparently been no traction as the Yankees play a game of chicken with LeMahieu’s camp. The most recent report on negotiations was that the two sides were $25 million apart last month, though the difference there was really a matter of years for the deal.
If not the Yankees, the two most likely suitors for LeMahieu are the Dodgers and Blue Jays. LeMahieu would replace Justin Turner in LA, and that team seems like the biggest threat from the Yankees’ perspective. I know the Jays are on the up, but I have a hard time believing they’d win out. We still don’t know if they will actually have a home in Toronto next year due to COVID-19, for one. Two, they seem to come in “second place” whenever a big name player goes elsewhere. So they don’t really scare me, at least not yet.
It’s been an incredibly quiet and boring offseason around the league, but there have been a few big names to move to date. And as a result of the Yankees’ waiting game with LeMahieu, the team has missed out. Lance Lynn, Yu Darvish, Francisco Lindor, and Carlos Carrasco have all changed teams over the last couple of months.
#Yankees inquired with the #Indians on the price for Lindor as a backup plan if they did not sign LeMahieu, but have remained committed to seeing it thru with LeMahieu even as other options — such as Lindor — come off the board.— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) January 7, 2021
Acquiring Lindor may have been a pipe dream, but the deal Cleveland got from the Mets wasn’t exactly overwhelming (Randy and Bobby broke that down on the most recent podcast). Maybe Cleveland would have preferred the Mets’ offer regardless of what the Yankees could have put on the table, but still: the Yankees are voluntarily passing up on upgrades while waiting on LeMahieu.
Acquiring Lindor or Darvish would immediately put the Yankees out of the running for LeMahieu, assuming ownership’s hardline on the $210 million luxury tax threshold. Losing DJLM would stink, of course. And look, I want him back too, especially with Lindor no longer available. But until the pen meets paper, it’d be nice to see the Yankees seriously pursuing alternatives to bolster this roster. Maybe that would put a little pressure on LeMahieu’s camp to fall back on some of their demands, especially if LeMahieu is adamant about playing for the Bombers.
Greg Allen trade
The Yankees finally made a major league acquisition last week: the team acquired outfielder Greg Allen from the Padres. As a result, the 40-man roster is full. Allen, 27, is a speed-and-defense first outfielder with a lifetime 69 wRC+ in 618 plate appearances. He’s a switch-hitter who’s better from the left side (82 wRC+). Allen is out of minor league options so he’ll have to stick on the big league team unless he can clear waivers, which seems unlikely. That makes him the fifth outfielder at the moment.
In return, the Yankees sent 27 year-old minor league reliever James Reeves to San Diego. No big deal here. He’s a southpaw who’s been passed over in the Rule 5 draft multiple times already. Sure, he’s posted some solid numbers in the minors, including 55.1 innings of 1.79 ERA ball in Double-A in 2019. But he’s not a prospect of any real regard.
Roster Resource has the team’s luxury tax payroll at just under $181 million, leaving the front office approximately $29 million in wiggle room under the first luxury tax threshold. Seems pretty safe to say that the Yankees will stay under that de facto cap. Most of amount available is earmarked for LeMahieu, of course.
Keep in mind that the $181 million figure is an estimate. It includes the MLB Trade Rumors arbitration estimates, and of the ten players the Yankees have who are eligible, only two have settled (Luis Cessa and Ben Heller).
Projected Roster 26-man roster
This is sure to change (gosh, I hope) before Opening Day. But might as well take a look at where things stand currently if the first game was tomorrow:
Catchers (2): Gary Sánchez, Kyle Higashioka
Infielders (5): Luke Voit, Gleyber Torres, Gio Urshela, Tyler Wade, Miguel Andújar
Outfielders (5): Aaron Judge, Aaron Hicks, Clint Frazier, Mike Tauchman, Greg Allen
Designated Hitter (1): Giancarlo Stanton
Starting Pitchers (5): Gerrit Cole, Jordan Montgomery, Deivi García, Domingo German, Michael King
Relief Pitchers (8): Aroldis Chapman, Zack Britton, Adam Ottavino, Chad Green, Luis Cessa, Jonathan Loáisiga, Nick Nelson, Albert Abreu
Injured (1): Luis Severino
Minors on 40-man (13): Mike Ford, Thairo Estrada, Oswald Peraza, Estevan Florial, Clarke Schmidt, Luis Medina, Alexander Vizcaino, Luis Gil, Roansy Contreras, Yoendrys Gomez, Miguel Yajure, Ben Heller, Brooks Kriske
The obvious holes: middle infield and starting pitching. Getting some position player depth and a left-handed bat would be nice too, but that really seems like too much to as at this point.