Analysis

The Yankees Need More Than Just DJ LeMahieu To Win A World Series In 2021

Yes, the New York Yankees must resign DJ LeMahieu, but he cannot be their only big offseason move if they want to win it all in 2021. 

On paper, outside of the Los Angeles Dodgers the New York Yankees have arguably put together the best roster in baseball the last three seasons.

With a mix of young and veteran talent, All-Star’s at nearly every position and the addition of a true ace in Gerrit Cole last offseason, the Yankees seemingly have had all the pieces in place to bring a World Series title back to the Bronx but have been unable to get the job done.

The Yankees have not reached the World Series since winning it back in 2009. The last three seasons have not come closer than two games of making it back. Heading into 2021, the team is at a true crossroads. 

A pair of vital contributors to the Yankees’ regular season and limited postseason success are on the free-agent market in infielder DJ LeMahieu and starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka.

Both manager Aaron Boone and general manager Brian Cashman have made it clear resigning LeMahieu is their top priority this offseason, which is good news. LeMahieu is the reigning AL Batting Champion, has been in the MVP race in both of his two seasons in New York and has been by far the teams’ most consistent player in the field and at the plate. 

While resigning LeMahieu is a must for the Bombers, they need to do more to improve their roster if they want to win it all than just bring back their All-Star second basemen.

LeMahieu like the remainder of the Yankees lineup, is right-handed. The team’s only current left-handed options are Aaron Hicks, who is a switch hitter, outfielder Mike Tauchman who is a far better defensive outfielder than offensive, reserve infielder Tyler Wade who has struggled with the bat his entire career and streaky backup first basemen Mike Ford. Thus, the team must add a left-handed or switch-hitting bat that could platoon with one of their right-handed starters. 

Then, the team has serious holes to fill in their rotation. As it stands, the opening day rotation for the Yankees would likely look like this:

  1. Gerrit Cole
  2. Deivi Garcia
  3. Jordan Montgomery
  4. Domingo German
  5. Micheal King/Clarke Schmidt

Clearly, this is a problem as outside of Cole, the Yankees would have a rotation full of question marks. Garcia looked solid in his first six career starts but has never pitched through a full major league season, Montgomery has been streaky and will be entering his first full season since his Tommy John surgery in 2018, German missed all of 2020 suspended and both King and Schmidt struggled in their first MLB action in 2020.

While Luis Severino should be back by mid-summer to provide the rotation with a boost, there is clearly still far more questions than answers. Whether it’s resigning Tanaka, going for a big fish such as Trevor Bauer, or adding a pair of veteran free agents such as Jon Lester of Jose Quintana, the Yankees must upgrade their rotation with or without LeMahieu back in Pinstripes.

Finally, the team would benefit from another right-handed relief arm. Set-up man Tommy Kahnle is a free agent who will be out for the 2021 season as he recovers from Tommy John surgery and Adam Ottavino posted a woeful 5.89 ERA in his place.

Outside of left-hander Zack Britton and closer Aroldis Chapman who also struggled in 2020, the Yankees don’t have many reliable relief options, especially right-handed. Names such as Liam Hendricks and Blake Treinen would fix that hole immediately for the Bombers and clean up a major weak spot on the roster.

While the Yankees are right to make LeMahieu their top priority, additions must be made to the rotation, bullpen and a left-handed bat is needed in order for the team to accomplish their goal of winning a 28th World Series title in 2021. 

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