The Yankees have a few pending free agents this upcoming offseason, but none are more important than team MVP DJ LeMahieu.
Since signing with the New York Yankees prior to the 2019 season, DJ LeMahieu has produced at an unreal rate. In 2019, he slashed .327/.375/.518 with 26 homers and 197 hits and finished 4th in the AL MVP voting. Thus far in 2020, he is flirting with hitting .400 and has an outstanding 1.031 OPS. Not bad for a player making $12 million a year.There’s no question that LeMahieu’s numbers are deserving of much more money per year. Lucky for him, he only signed for two years and is presumably due to a hefty payday this upcoming offseason. His signing flew way under the radar in an offseason that included names such as Bryce Harper and Manny Machado. LeMahieu quickly went from the guy Yankees fans were forced to settle for, to the guy Yankees fans never want to leave. The question shouldn’t be should the Yankees bring him back. It should be how much money is he making and when is he signing the deal?
DJ LeMahieu’s Side
Let’s take a look at the basics. DJ will be going into his age 33 seasons in 2021, so the number of years and money he receives will be interesting. Due to this last year and a half being his best yet, he could very well want to sign a deal that locks himself up for at least 5 years. After that, assuming he will produce still, a team could still want to sign him for a year or two.
A very important aspect of contract negotiation is what the player wants. If a player wants out of an organization, clearly they won’t engage in talks. But that’s not the case with DJ. Although there have been no talks of a new contract extension, which is common, he has been outspoken about loving playing in New York and wanting to stay with the team.
The Yankees Side
The only thing that should worry Yankee fans is the fact that the Yankees are making it clear that they do not want to add a lot of money to the payroll, and this trade deadline was a clear example. They also have to think about down the line and paying their young core what they deserve. But DJ cannot just be replaced. He has missed time this season, and it hurts the team. As of now, there is no internal, cheap replacement that can come close to matching what DJ does. If the Yankees let him walk, they will be forced to pay someone else to fill his shoes, and that in itself would come with a big price tag.
DJ LeMahieu provides this Yankees team with something that they lacked prior to his arrival: a player that can consistently put the ball in play without relying on power. Even though he most likely won’t get a long deal (5+ years), his age shouldn’t play a factor in whether or not the Yankees want to keep him. Money shouldn’t be an issue either. You pay guys who deserve it, and DJ deserves it. All in all, there is no excuse for the Yankees front office to not resign DJ LeMahieu.