Yankees: DJ LeMahieu Contract Extension Needs to Happen Before 2020 Season Starts

DJ LeMahieu, who should be a New York Yankee for life (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
DJ LeMahieu, who should be a New York Yankee for life (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

The New York Yankees should be using this time off from baseball wisely, namely to take care of star slugger DJ LeMahieu.

The delayed start to the 2020 MLB season should be a time for front offices to strategize and start planning for the 2021 campaign. After all, we could theoretically see a lot of players hit free agency without taking the field at all this year (in the tragic event there’s no baseball, due to the coronavirus’ second wave).

That has us a bit surprised from the New York Yankees’ standpoint. General manager Brian Cashman is always thinking ahead, so what’s the wait here? Perhaps ownership could be telling him to pump the brakes, but then again, Hal Steinbrenner has to want the best players on the team back for next year, right? Right?

That’s why the urgency to sign DJ LeMahieu to a contract extension is paramount at the moment.

The Yankees stand to lose LeMahieu, Masahiro Tanaka and James Paxton (and possibly JA Happ and Brett Gardner) after 2020. It wouldn’t be surprising at all if Gardy is back, but Happ is probably gone because he won’t be able to meet his vesting option incentive thresholds. As for Tanaka and Paxton, losing both would be a big blow, but they’re not exactly irreplaceable. Tanaka has proven to be inconsistent despite his admirable run in the Bronx, while Paxton is a known injury liability (and he’s never pitched over 160.1 innings in a single season).

That’s why prioritizing a DJLM extension is paramount for Cashman and Co. And, to be quite honest, Yankee fans might riot if this man isn’t back in the Bronx for the 2021 campaign and beyond.

What separates LeMahieu from the aforementioned impending free agents is his consistency and undeniable fit. He can play all over the infield if need be, and what’s even crazier is that his value as a hitter overshadows that incredible defensive versatility.

The 31-year-old’s inaugural season with the Yanks proved his stint in Colorado was no fluke. The man won a batting title with the Rockies, then set career highs, blowing any and all expectations out of the water by slashing .327/.375/.518 with 109 runs scored, 26 home runs and 102 RBI in 2019. He was very much the engine that powered the Yankees’ offense, especially in wake of the countless injuries the roster suffered last year.

Next. Alex Cora Explains Cheating Scandal. dark

Sure, it’s only one campaign, but DJLM proved his worth from the jump and he needs to be rewarded with security for it. Such immediate impacts are rarely flukes. And when you consider the fact he had a higher WAR (5.9) than Tanaka, Paxton and Happ combined (5.7) in 2019, it’s clear this is the impending free agent Cashman needs to extend ASAP.