Fans assuming Yankees have expensive master plan without DJ LeMahieu are too hopeful


Yankees fans who assume the team has a master plan beyond DJ LeMahieu might want to rethink things.

If the Yankees let DJ LeMahieu walk to the Dodgers, Blue Jays, or Mets, it’s reasonable to be disappointed and, yes, angry. That would mean the team chose to let their most consistently available top performer with a specific penchant for hitting with runners in scoring position walk away for money alone.

No matter how you slice it, there is nothing “good” about losing key pieces simply because they cost someone else’s money.

But there is a version of LeMahieu’s departure where the narrative of his exile very much turns around next offseason.

Unfortunately, it takes a lot of mental math to get there, while the spendthrift Yankees are doing actual math that may prevent any of it from ever materializing. Be very careful what you wish for if you’re hoping LeMahieu walks.

Yes, there is a world where the Yankees get outbid by $25 million for LeMahieu’s services and he joins the World Champion Dodgers, making an elite team a little bit more elite. Already, that sounds unappealing. Running into LeMahieu on the only team standing between you and a title in a best-case scenario? Don’t sign me up!

In that world, the thing blocking the Yanks from retaining their MVP candidate is money. Every hypothetical scenario that improves the roster after his departure involves the Yankees spending even more money on a superstar shortstop, all while balancing future raises for Aaron Judge and Gleyber Torres.

Fanciful and everything, but should we perhaps listen to the Yankees when they claim to have suffered the largest losses of any MLB team during the pandemic? Lie or not, it’s what they want you to think. And lie or not, it’ll influence their habits down the road.

If LeMahieu leaves because the Yankees refused to surpass their initial offer by $20-25 million, that isn’t automatically a ringing endorsement that they’re saving their money for Trevor Story, Francisco Lindor or Corey Seager. Perhaps they’re saving it to line their own pockets to cover for the losses they’ve made it very clear they want you to know about.

This is also not to mention that, if the Yankees let LeMahieu walk, move Gleyber Torres to second base and sign any shortstop stopgap other than Andrelton Simmons, the most expensive option, they’ll quite likely be worse during one extremely valuable year of Gerrit Cole’s prime, something that would be unfair to just throw away. Simmons’ bat could also regress further, neutering his defensive advantage somewhat. There are plenty of unknowns here which wouldn’t exist if the team just re-signed LeMahieu.

And that’s the point. You can spiral and extrapolate however you want to, and perhaps the team is better off, in theory, with Story and Torres. But sometimes you have to listen to what the franchise says rather than assigning your own dreams to their actions.

And there’s a good chance that if the team doesn’t value LeMahieu properly, they also might not value contention over the next few seasons.