The Yankees shouldn’t have to pick and choose between signing DJ LeMahieu or Michael Brantley.
Thursday evening briefly felt like Christmas morning for Yankees fans before an unfortunate touch of aggravation was squirted into the mix like lime juice into an eye.
Buster Olney briefly provided the perfect free agency update for Bombers fans, namedropping the most ideal pair of fits for the current roster in the same tweet!
Unfortunately, seconds after initially floating the proposition, he backtracked and cited an informal budget. Yes, the Yankees were checking in on Michael Brantley to add smooth-swinging lefty pop to their lineup. No, they probably couldn’t sign both Brantley and DJ LeMahieu.
And to that, we say: Yes, they obviously could!
If we had to choose a single addition with a gun to our head, we’re picking LeMahieu 10 times out of 10, of course. We already have two years’ worth of evidence he fits. Adding him wouldn’t create the roster glut that signing Brantley would — at least, temporarily, before an outfield injury created a more obvious need for his services.
But there is no good reason, even after a pandemic-shortened season, that the New York Goddamned Yankees couldn’t afford both of these fine men at the same time. And unless you have a vested interest in Hal Steinbrenner finishing the aluminum siding on his Yarmouth-Dennis June house (different house for every month of the summer), then you should agree with this notion.
Of course, it will not shock you to know that the team that’s been in on every free agent this offseason has also had conversations with Brantley: The Toronto Blue Jays.
If the Yankees let Brantley walk to a rival again while attempting to sell us on a false dichotomy between the potential two best hitters on the market, both of whom will be affordable, then spare us.
We will understand if the Yankees’ search for a lefty bat leads them elsewhere — specifically to Kyle Schwarber, who’s more likely to come at a lower cost and is potentially more willing to slot in as a mashing fourth outfielder/MASH unit starter. Selling Brantley on a shifting role would be difficult.
But just because he’s entering his age 34 season as one of the best pure hitters in baseball does not mean he’s not 34. He’s aging. Brantley will likely only command a three-year contract at most, with a cost of, what, $15 million per year maximum? LeMahieu seems likely to top $20 million for between four and five years. Even if the total of these two contracts is exceeded by the Yankees’ total financial losses from the 2020 season, we can guarantee a championship season will offset such a deficit.
Clearly, though, the Yankees are prepared to present fans with a dream pairing, then tell them they can only have one or the other. Simply not true.