Yankees News: DJ LeMahieu injury update, Spencer Jones award, Opening Day roster

2024 New York Yankees Spring Training
2024 New York Yankees Spring Training / New York Yankees/GettyImages

It's legitimately insane to think DJ LeMahieu was once an MVP candidate for the New York Yankees. In 2019 and 2020, he was arguably the most important player on the roster, when you factored in injuries to everyone else.

But since the start of the 2021 season, LeMahieu, outside of winning a Utility Gold Glove Award, has been a non-factor. He's been slowed by a litany of ailments, coupled with the fact his age is catching up to him (he turns 36 in July).

Don't let his 150 games played in 2021 fool you, either. He was injured for most of that but nobody knew until he was ruled out for the AL Wild Card Game and then promptly underwent surgery. The Yankee Way.

But fans were looking forward to 2024 for the veteran. LeMahieu was finally healthy and would be surrounded by the best assortment of hitters since joining the Yankees. "LeMachine" was about to reclaim his throne atop the lineup as one of the league's most fearsome leadoff hitters.

... until he fouled a ball off his foot in spring training and was said to be fine, and then not so fine, and then placed on the injured list to start the season. It just never ends.

Yankees News: DJ LeMahieu injury update, Spencer Jones award, Opening Day roster

A once beloved Yankee has turned into and endless headache, and fans must endure three more years of LeMahieu either providing little-to-no positive impact while weighing down the payroll (he's making $15 million a year). It's unclear how much time he'll miss, but nobody's willing to offer up optimism with how most of his Yankees tenure has transpired.

Looking ahead to better days, Spencer Jones, the Yankees' prized top prospect, absolutely lit up the competition this spring both before and after he was reassigned to minor-league camp. He was the team's top performer in the Spring Breakout showcase as well.

Jones was recognized for his output after earning the 2024 James P. Dawson award -- an annual recognition for the "most outstanding Yankees rookie in spring training."

Yeah ... there's a reason the Yankees didn't want to trade him for Corbin Burnes or Dylan Cease! New York's need for pitching in 2024 does not supercede a potential decade of stardom from a homegrown player, of which the Yankees need more.

But some young studs will kick off the season with the 2024 Yanks. Luis Gil won the No. 5 starter job after an electric spring. Clayton Beeter has made the roster and will pitch out of the bullpen. Big seasons are on the horizon for Anthony Volpe, Clarke Schmidt, Oswaldo Cabrera and Oswald Peraza (once healthy).

Who's going to round out the Opening Day roster, though?

The injuries to Gerrit Cole, Tommy Kahnle, Scott Effross, Lou Trivino, Jasson Dominguez, LeMahieu and Peraza have opened up some space. Gil and Beeter took two of those spots. Luke Weaver is another. The pitching isn't as much of a concern as the bench depth, however.

Once again, the Yankees are in a precarious spot because they planned for a perfect scenario. They're now in danger of having to carry someone like Kevin Smith (who has been awful this spring) or Jahmai Jones (who has 36 games of MLB experience as a soon-to-be 27-year-old) come March 28th. As of Monday evening, Jones has the inside track; Smith, along with slugger Jose Rojas and outfielder Oscar Gonzalez, was demoted.

However, Aaron Boone left plenty of wiggle room for a potential maneuver, revealing that both Jones and Ben Rortvedt remain in the mix, pending last-minute reinforcements. Very "Gio Urshela is our starting shortstop" vibes. And speaking of Urshela...

Not feeling great about any of it ... especially because if there's one more injury, we're looking at a very, very bleak month of April.