Tag: DJ LeMahieu Page 1 of 17

Rounding Out the Edges

With the signings of DJ LeMahieu and Corey Kluber, the main thrust of the Yankee roster is more or less filled out. At the very least, the lineup seems set:

C–Gary Sanchez

1B–Luke Voit

2B–DJ LeMahieu

3B–Gio Urshela

SS–Gleyber Torres

LF–Clint Frazier

CF–Aaron Hicks

RF–Aaron Judge

DH–Giancarlo Stanton

Kyle Higashioka and Tyler Wade are assuredly two of the four bench spots, with new addition Greg Allen and holdovers Mike Ford, Miguel Andujar, Thairo Estrada, and Mike Tauchman up for the final two spots. Tauchman and Allen are both out of options, so we can presume–for now–that the fourth outfield spot will be a battle between those two.

The rotation also looks more set with Kluber joining Gerrit Cole, Jordan Montgomery, and some combination of Deivi Garcia, Clarke Schmidt, Domingo German, and, eventually, Luis Severino. Honorable mention to Mike King. The bullpen, though untouched by these acquisitions, seems set as well: Aroldis Chapman, Zack Britton, Chad Green, Adam Ottavino, Luis Cessa, Joanthan Loaisiga, Nick Nelson, Albert Abreu (presumably, since he’sout of options) with the still optionable Ben Heller, Brooks Kriske, and Miguel Yajure in reserve.

All in all, this a roster I feel mostly confident in. The lineup is obviously fantastic and the bullpen’s top-three is as good as any in the Majors. The bench may not be sparkling, but the players there are likely good for their roles. At the least, the rotation has one of the best pitchers in baseball and serious upside.

But if we look closely, we can see some rough edges to this team. If a middle infielder goes down, they could be in trouble, same with an outfielder. The bullpen looks strong, but Ottavino is on shaky ground, which helps tire out Green and Britton as bridges to Chapman, which we’ve seen bite the Yankees in the playoffs of late. And that rotation has a lot of question marks beyond Cole.

In order of need, I’d say the Yankees need another starter, another infielder, and another reliever. I’m not wild about either Allen or Tauchman as backups, but I think there’s enough glove for both of them to make it work, considering the strength of the rest of the outfield. Do I think they could do better at 4th/5th OF? Yeah, for sure, but it’s lower on the list than the other items.

Getting any one of those–starter, IF, RP–would be tough given where the Yankees are in terms of their self-imposed budget. After the Kluber signing, they have just under $6 million to play with. If they’re going to stick to Plan 210, any signing(s) they make would be for depth, not impact. I’m of two minds on this.

The first mind says that, given the roster and even the title of this post, depth is what they could use right now. The roster is strong as it stands, could easily win the division, and make noise in the playoffs.

But the second mind says ‘yikes’ to that rotation. As good as Corey Kluber is, he’s pitched all of, uh, basically nothing since 2018. Deivi is still (mostly) unproven. Domingo German is a complete mystery and relying on a TJS recovery version of Luis Severino is not comforting. Something more than depth or a lottery ticket is needed to make me feel better about the rotation. But is it out there?

The team doesn’t seem to want to bring Masahiro Tanaka back, which saddens me deeply, and I doubt they go big splash with Trevor Bauer. It’s possible that the amount they spent on Kluber means they’ll blow past $210M–or maybe surpass it in the season–but they could just as easily close up the free agent shop, so to speak.

Given the budget constraints–however self-imposed–and the 40 man roster crunch–Kluber and DJLM make 42–it’s likely that the improvements I’d want for the Yankees would have to come by trade. Luis Castillo, maybe? That could be pie in the sky and I’m terrible at coming up with trade scenarios, so we’ll leave it there.

Regardless of my two minds, the Yankees have a great roster and only need to round out the edges. Whether they do that ‘roughly’ by just adding depth or ‘smoothly’ by getting someone to make a big impact, this team is going to win lots of games. Probably.

Report: DJ LeMahieu finalizing agreement to return to the Yankees

Finally, some good news to wake up to. The staring contest between the Yankees and DJ LeMahieu is mercifully over.

The deal is for six years and $90 million, per reports by Pat Ragazzo and Jeff Passan. Clearly, the Yankees tacked on an extra year or two to bring down the average annual value. LeMahieu’s deal will count $15 million towards the team’s 2021 luxury tax payroll. That leaves the Yankees somewhere around $15 million under the initial $210 million tax threshold. Time to add pitching, folks.

LeMahieu, 32, put up MVP-caliber numbers in his first two seasons with the Yankees. The infielder hit .336/.386/.536 (146 wRC+) and racked up 7.8 fWAR. He’s been money in the clutch, too. Losing him would have been a pretty big blow, but the Yankees clearly made it priority number one to retain him, even if it took until mid-January to wrap up.

Today’s news comes on the heels of weeks of negotiating through the media. I wouldn’t say things were contentious, but I also wouldn’t say it was pleasant. Back in December, reports indicated that the two sides were as much as $25 million apart in negotiations. Other teams, namely the Dodgers, were in the mix. The Mets lurked. Even the Blue Jays, consistently in second place in all free agent negotiations and trade talks, were an option. Most recently, there was a story about LeMahieu’s frustration with the slow pace of negotiations with the Yankees. Perhaps that was the final push the Yankees needed to get something done.

The Yankees have a full 40-man roster, so a corresponding move will have to be made once the deal is official. Mike Ford and Albert Abreu seem like prime candidates to get the boot.

More details surely to come. We’ll update this post as information trickles in. A happy Friday, indeed.

A refresher on the Yankees’ offseason status

Sigh.

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.

Post-DJ Part Two: Spending the Money

A little less than a month ago, I wrote about the possibility of a post-DJ LeMahieu life for the Yankees and included a bunch of options to replace him. If you’d asked me then if I thought that I’d write a follow up just a few days before Christmas, I’d’ve said no. Yankees or not, I figured DJLM would’ve signed with a team by now. Well, he hasn’t and the Yankees haven’t done anything in Major League free agency, so it’s given my mind time to wander. How could the Yankees spend if they don’t sign LeMahieu?

Without signing him, the Yankees would have about $35 million to play with before the first luxury tax barrier. In reality, it’s a little over that, but for the purposes of this exercise, we’ll say it’s $35M. For simplicity’s sake, too, I’m going to ignore the roster crunch that would happen in either of the scenarios I’m about to present. There’d be ways to work this out and this is a lot of wish casting anyway, so let’s roll with it. All salary assumptions are from MLBTR and reflect the contract’s average annual value for tax purposes.

My first plan is the ‘stick to the plan’ plan in which ‘stick with the plan’ means keeping Gleyber Torres at shortstop, even if LeMahieu signs elsewhere. Here goes, with $35M to spend:

–Sign Kolten Wong for $8M ($27M remaining)

–Sign Jose Quintana for $9M ($18M remaining)

–Sign Liam Hendriks for $10M ($8M remaining)

–Sign Brad Hand for $M ($1M remaining)

This gives the Yankees a viable replacement for LeMahieu, some starting depth, and good bullpen depth, too.

My second plan is a bit of a more nostalgic, get-the-band-back-together type plan.

–Sign Didi Gregorius for $13M ($22M remaining)

–Sign Masahiro Tanaka for $13M ($9M remaining)

–Sign Marc Melancon for $4M ($5M remaining)

–Sign Cole Hamels for $4M ($1M remaining)

All of them–except Hamels–have been Yankees at one point and are good enough to bring back. Hamels is a personal favorite and would be decent rotation depth with Tanaka back, too.

One thing we should not–aside from the aforementioned roster concerns–is that MLBTR’s salaries have shot pretty low. Hell, they project LeMahieu himself to get only $17M AAV. Additionally, I put the Yankees right up against the edge of the tax, which they may not want to do, in case they actually want to shop around at the trade deadline.

Even if they are a little more convoluted, there are paths to follow without LeMahieu; they could even be pretty successful! The simplest route–and the one fans likely want most–is to re-sign LeMahieu and go from there. There’s obviously still time to make that happen and build around that move. If they don’t though, the Yankees have options for that money.

Thoughts on LeMahieu, pitching, and more as snow falls in the New York area

Embed from Getty Images

It’s been a while since any of us has shared a thoughts post, hasn’t it? Not like there’s been much going on in the Yankees’ universe, anyway. We have heard a bit more from the team in the media of late, whether it’s appearances on the YES Network hot stove show or elsewhere. And now that I’ve finished shoveling (twice already), I have some thoughts on what we’ve heard from in recent days, so let’s get to it.

On the latest with DJ LeMahieu. By now you’ve surely seen the reports that the Yankees and DJ LeMahieu are $25 million apart in contract negotiations. Sounds bad, doesn’t it? But really, it’s not. The difference here really is a matter of years, not money. Per the initial NJ.com report, LeMahieu’s camp is seeking $100 million over five seasons, whereas the Yankees prefer four years for $75 million. We’re really talking about one year difference in term and $1.25 million in average annual value.

LeMahieu turns 33 in July and the Yankees’ preference is to have his contract end sooner. That’s always sensible with a player entering his mid-to-late thirties. Meanwhile, LeMahieu wants to scratch out as much as he can since this likely is his final chance to cash in. Also sensible! But perhaps most importantly in this negotiation, both sides have clearly signaled a desire to reunite. At some point, I imagine the Yankees and LeMahieu will compromise on some sort of option for that fifth year.

Now, I must admit all of this admiration and negotiation through the media has grown a little tiring for me. Just get a deal done, already. A blogger needs some news to keep content going, you know.

Even considering my own impatience, I am a little confused about the Yankees unwillingness to do anything until the LeMahieu situation is resolved. The Yankees have something like $30 million of space below the first luxury tax threshold and it’s not like LeMahieu is going to eat up all of that. Sure, he’ll take up a good chunk, but there should still be something like $10 million to play with. I get that the front office isn’t going to turn and sign say, Marcus Semien, since that would eliminate them from retaining LeMahieu. But what about some position player depth? Another relief arm? I don’t know. Again, I’m desperate for something.

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