DJ LeMahieu is an MVP finalist and batting champion, which means the Yankees will have to pay up.
When the New York Yankees signed DJ LeMahieu to a two-year, $24 million contract, nobody thought much of it. It was clear there wasn’t any opposition to it given his track record with the Colorado Rockies, but nobody really knew what to expect. After all, the guy was benched on Opening Day back in 2019 in favor of Troy Tulowitzki.
But what followed after that should have convinced general manager Brian Cashman to spend right then and there to keep LeMahieu under contract for the foreseeable future before his value continued to skyrocket.
Well, the front office didn’t do that, and now finds itself in a predicament because LeMahieu has slashed .336/.386/.536 across 195 games with the Bombers and became a batting champion for the second time in 2020 before being named an MVP finalist in the American League.
It’s important to note that LeMahieu made it clear he wanted to sign an extension with the team, but no talks ever took place on that front. It’s understandable that the Yankees have a policy of waiting until the offseason to discuss any contract-related topics, but couldn’t have this been the exception, especially since we were heading into the most uncertain offseason in baseball history thanks to the global pandemic?
LeMahieu’s value to this team was very clear as we reached the stretch of the 2019 season, and then he blew the competition out of the water in the ALDS against the Twins and ALCS against the Astros. Perhaps the Yankees were hoping they’d see a bit of a regression in 2020 to drive DJLM’s price down, but that’s a dangerous game to play in a 60-game campaign, especially when they could have talked a deal after it was known the year would be shortened.
Now, the Yankees have made their bed and must lie in it. They have to pay whatever it takes to keep the veteran, and this is the position they chose to put themselves in. The fan base will not accept his departure. He’s the engine that powers the Yankees offense and is one of the few clutch bats on a team that boasts boom-or-bust power hitters.
And given they’ll have to pay more than they would have liked for LeMahieu, let’s not even get into how that’s going to affect their spending elsewhere.
Maybe this will teach the organization to bend on some of their rigid policies when an extenuating circumstance presents itself.