Yankees: Predicting Which Free Agents Return in 2021

New York Yankees pitcher James Paxton (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
New York Yankees pitcher James Paxton (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /
2 of 4

Returning Free Agents

New York Yankees IF DJ LeMahieu (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

DJ LeMahieu and Brett Gardner seem likely to return in 2021, as the 2020 campaign has changed everything.

Despite the fact that everything has changed over the course of 2020 in just five months, seemingly nothing has changed with the Yankees and DJ LeMahieu.

He’s still essential for everything this team wants to do in ’21 and beyond, and changes the entire complexion of New York’s lineup. Without LeMahieu, the Yankees’ lineup can be managed. Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez and Giancarlo Stanton can be navigated. They can be frustrated. They can be handled. With LeMahieu at the top, though, there’s always an agitating bat with an entirely different focus that the opposing pitcher has to deal with first. Judge, Sanchez, and Stanton are not “easy outs,” but they’re different hitters. LeMahieu pricking a pitcher’s balloon from the first pitch and ruining his confidence is uniquely valuable with the big boppers looming, and we saw it time and again last year.

The Yankees wouldn’t be the same without LeMahieu, and they realize that. Expect him to return.

As for Gardner, he’s continued to extend his career in single-year spurts these past few seasons in an effort to ride off into the sunset as a World Champion Yankee. He will not let his MLB career end with a work stoppage, and New York will be happy to pay him his option. He’s a similar agitator to LeMahieu, after all.