Does DJ LeMahieu agreeing with the Yankees out of nowhere portend a Corey Kluber signing?
LeMahieu and the Yankees reportedly agreed to a six-year commitment on Friday morning, and the timing could not be more perfect for many reasons.
And guess what? It’s only a $90 million deal. That’s $15 million annually. That gives the Yankees a LOT more breathing room to remain under the 2021 luxury tax, and now we have indication they will be going after starting pitching and relief pitching in the immediate future.
First thing’s first: the Yankees had a clear incentive to get their biggest fish’s numbers in order prior to the arbitration deadline so that they’d know exactly where to file for all their raise-eligible players.
But second thing’s second: Corey Kluber seems set to agree to a contract as soon as this weekend following his showcase on Wednesday.
Did the Yankees’ hand get forced here by their interest in the incentive-dependent former Indian?
Now, a LeMahieu deal combined with a Kluber contract wouldn’t be prohibitive after we previously thought both players combined should’ve gotten the Yankees somewhat close to the lowest luxury tax threshold of $210 million. Kluber is reportedly looking for a one-year deal in the $6-$8 million range with incentives.
Looking at the math, adding LeMahieu for $15 million ups the 2021 payroll to about $183 million. Potentially adding Kluber puts them a shade over $190. That leaves room for Masahiro Tanaka (or someone else?) and a cheap reliever or two. Everything’s starting to line up.
Entering Friday, it was widely speculated that Kluber would land with one of the Yanks, the Red Sox, and the Mets. The Bombers employ Eric Cressey, Kluber’s strength coach, as well as Matt Blake, who he worked with in Cleveland. He lives in Massachusetts, a natural geographic fit. And the Mets are the Mets.
Now, we’ve got the Yankees rushing into a LeMahieu deal after months of inactivity, and the Mets edging toward landing Brad Hand, seemingly beginning the process of allocating their resources elsewhere.
It doesn’t take much mental gymnastics to connect these dots.