As you were waking up this Friday (and probably before you were even up), the Yankees and DJ LeMahieu were coming to an agreement on a contract. Jon Morosi of MLB Network was the first to report the two sides were finalizing a deal for the batting champion to return to the Bronx.
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) January 15, 2021
Then, after much speculation on the years and terms on Twitter, Jeff Passan broke the “non-official official” news at 10:10 AM est along with the terms.
Second baseman DJ LeMahieu and the New York Yankees are finalizing a six-year, $90M contract, sources familiar with the agreement tell ESPN.
LeMahieu’s return to New York always felt inevitable. It took a while. But he wanted to be there and Yankees get top free agent target.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) January 15, 2021
Back in the Bronx
The Yankees pushed it to a sixth year in order to bring the average annual value (AAV) down in order to stay under the $210 million luxury tax threshold. At just $15 million a year, even if LeMahieu’s inevitable regression comes in the final few years, they won’t be locked into a terrible deal. The back-to-back top-four MVP finisher receives just a $3 million raise and this could easily be a steal for at least the first few years of the contract.
This move was much needed for the Yankees as LeMahieu was a linchpin for the Yankees lineup in the last two years. With all the power bats in their lineup, they need more contact hitters to even it out. He was known to have wanted to return to the Yankees but was growing impatient. He told his agent to reach out to other teams who had expressed interest, such as the Toronto Blue Jays, Los Angeles Dodgers, and New York Mets, which may have pushed the Yankees to take him more seriously.
In 195 games with the Yankees in 2019 and 2020, LeMahieu hit .336/.386/.536. He led the American League in batting average (.364), on-base percentage (.421), and OPS (1.011) in the shortened 2020 season.
What’s Next for the Bombers
Now that they brought him back, they can now look toward other needs, like adding another top starter or two, a bullpen arm, and possibly a lefty bat such as outfielder Michael Brantley. They have about $18 million of space left before they reach the luxury tax threshold. The Bombers have been in contact with free-agent right-hander Corey Kluber, as NJ.com reporter Brendan Kuty is reporting talks have been for a one-year deal.
My perfect offseason for the Yankees following the LeMahieu signing would be bringing Masahiro Tanaka back, signing someone like Kluber – or trading for a starter – and signing a bullpen arm. If a trade for a starter would involve Clint Frazier, signing Brantley would be a must. Stay tuned for a new Too Much Pod Tar podcast going through this signing further and what’s next for the Yankees.
Read some of my other work regarding this:
Follow Alex Kielar on Twitter @AlexKielar
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