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.