Everything appeared to be good with the New York Yankees. Aside from a reunion with Brett Gardner, the addition of another relief pitcher, and a dreamy scenario in which general manager Brian Cashman lands a bonafide No. 2 starter in a trade, almost everything is looking up for 2021.
Not so fast! You’re only allowed to enjoy *exactly* one week of the offseason at a time. That’s it. We don’t make the rules. That’s what happens when expectations are sky-high, fans are complaining about the lack of movement in free agency and on the trade market, and when one of your division rivals continues to beef up their offense.
And then … there’s this! The last thing we’d expect: Cashman legitimately calling out DJ LeMahieu during his video conference with reporters on Friday. This is exactly what the Yankees DO NOT need.
Here’s what Cashman said, via NJ.com:
"“If DJ wanted it over in two weeks, he could have just said yes to my first offer,” Cashman said in a video call with reporters on Friday. “But he said no, so he dragged it out. As far as I’m concerned, he’s just as guilty as we are in terms of why it took so long.“I mean, it’s a lot of money. Obviously, I was navigating those negotiating waters with Joel Wolf, who’s a tremendous agent we have a long standing relationship with. There was a lot of competition when I was dealing with Joel, which was driving the marketplace.“It’s not easy in a pandemic crisis to be jumping into contract commitments value of $100 million or more, and we were approaching that,” Cashman said. “So we have a long drawn-out negotiation. You see those contracts that are being given out.”"
Hey Yankees, we’re terribly sorry LeMahieu vastly out-played his previous contract and was the team MVP in 2019 and 2020 (he was an AL finalist in ’20, too, and finished fourth in the voting in ’19).
Also, though LeMahieu wanted to return all along, there was absolutely no reason for him not to explore other options on the open market when the Yankees’ offer didn’t blow him away.
All in all, the six-year, $90 million contract he ended up signing is more of a team-friendly pact than anything. It saves the Yankees from going over the luxury tax threshold in 2020 and only gives LeMahieu a $3 million raise from an AAV standpoint.
Is $90 million a lot of money? Sure is! But not when it’s viewed through the lens of the baseball world. LeMahieu’s deal ranks 48th in MLB with guys like Wil Myers, Madison Bumgarner, Dexter Fowler and Josh Donaldson right near him. He’s worlds better than all of those players.
LeMahieu isn’t guilty of anything, unless he had six offers in hand, with the Yankees’ being the largest, and simply decided to wait months before making a decision in hopes Cashman would for some reason increase the dollar amount for no reason other than to please his MVP.
That would’ve been a little big deranged, but there’s no indication (yet) that that was the case.