Updated: Jan 16, 2021
DJ LeMahieu and the New York Yankees are playing a dangerous game of chicken and no one has blinked yet. The Yankees has stated all winter that resigning LeMahieu is their number 1 priority. DJ have said all winter that he wants to be a Yankee. So what’s the hold up? Money.
DJ LeMahieu was a late Feb signing in 2019 when he signed a 2yr/$24M deal to be a utility man. Injuries to Troy Tulowitzki put him in the starting lineup and he has never come out. He made Brian Cashman look like a genius as he won 2 batting titles and has been the rock in an often-injured Yankees lineup. Now he wants to be paid as such.
The Yankees on the other hand have worked for the last few years to get under that magical $210M annual payoff threshold. This would drastically reduce they luxury tax they would pay. And in an economy where there is no revenue from home games and even ESPN is renegotiating their deal, money is tough to come by. They want DJ back, but at their price. They have around $25-30M to spend before they hit that $210M mark and have needs at starting pitcher, catcher and outfield.
The two sides are reportedly 425M apart, as LeMahieu wants at least 5 years and the Yankees want 3 years. The Yankees told DJ to go find the offer you want, and we want the option to match. The problem is no one is getting offers in this depressed market. LeMahieu, along with J.T. Realmuto, George Springer and Trevor Bauer remain available as of writing this. The richest deal this offseason so far was for 4yr/$40M to James McCann (by the Mets no less). No one is getting what they want and why would the Yankees bid against themselves?
This game of chicken has cost the Yankees their plan B as Francisco Lindor was traded to the New York Mets for little to nothing. It might cost them the chance to resign Tanaka, but also could cost them DJ if they’re not careful. I think eventually the deal will get done, but these are the Yankees of the George Steinbrenner days. This is a strange time and only time will tell who blinks first.