In case it wasn’t abundantly clear, Normal Supervisor Brian Cashman reiterated the Yankees’ major aim of this low season to reporters on Wednesday: re-signing infielder D.J. LeMahieu, a free agent.
The day earlier than, Aaron Boone, the workforce’s supervisor, had mentioned, “Hopefully on the finish of all this, D.J. is a Yankee for a very long time.”
LeMahieu, a second baseman who may fill in across the diamond, was the Yankees’ finest all-around participant over the previous two seasons. In 2019, he hit .327 with 26 house runs and 102 runs batted in, ending fourth in voting for American League most respected participant. On this yr’s truncated 60-game season, he gained his second batting title, main the most important leagues with a .364 common, and completed third within the A.L. M.V.P. voting.
The Yankees shocked many when, dealing with a surplus of infielders earlier than the 2019 season, they signed LeMahieu as a free agent to a two-year, $24 million contract, which looks like a cut price in hindsight. LeMahieu, 32, has turn into an indispensable Yankee, and the workforce’s low season plans heart on him.
Talking on a video convention name, Cashman mentioned the Yankees had carried out their homework on different choices within the free-agent and commerce markets. “However something that’s come off the board earlier than in the present day got here off the board as a result of I’m keen to attend to hopefully discover a method to navigate a negotiation efficiently with D.J. LeMahieu,” he mentioned.
The Yankees and LeMahieu have repeatedly mentioned they need to keep collectively. However in a sluggish low season up to now and a negotiation hole between the LeMahieu and the Yankees, the reunion has but to occur. Regardless of his age, LeMahieu could possibly be in line for a profitable contract of at the least 4 years.
Cashman mentioned he had acquired no promise from LeMahieu’s agent, Joel Wolfe, that he and his shopper would circle again to the Yankees ought to they obtain a suggestion from one other workforce they preferred. However Cashman mentioned he had advised Wolfe that the Yankees wouldn’t proceed with any different plans with out informing LeMahieu’s facet.
“He’s a particular participant,” Cashman mentioned. “He’s simply carried out all the pieces proper. We had been lucky to have him for 2 years. We’d prefer to have him for longer, and it simply stays to be seen if it’s going to work out that approach or not.”
Cashman declined to elaborate on his low season finances or say whether or not he had been advised to get beneath the 2021 luxurious tax threshold of $210 million. He did say, although, that he felt “assured that we are going to once more have the very best payroll, regardless.” (The gamers’ union has expressed skepticism a couple of declare by the M.L.B. commissioner, Rob Manfred, that the league’s 30 golf equipment sustained about $3 billion in working losses this yr.)
Earlier than the pandemic shut down sports activities in March, the Yankees had pushed previous a number of luxurious tax thresholds with the most important opening day payroll within the majors, at $265 million, in accordance with Cot’s Baseball Contracts. About $75 million in 2020 salaries — for pitchers J.A. Happ, Masahiro Tanaka and James Paxton; outfielder Brett Gardner; and LeMahieu — have come off the books.
Cashman mentioned he had been in contact with the brokers for Tanaka and Gardner, two longtime Yankees he wish to see return. “We’ll see how issues play out,” he mentioned.
Cashman repeatedly mentioned on Wednesday that, even with none winter additions, he believed the Yankees had “a really sturdy dedicated roster already.” However he mentioned he wish to add to the pitching workers and nonetheless enhance the workforce, which hasn’t gained a World Collection title since 2009.
Gerrit Cole is the one confirmed wholesome arm within the beginning rotation for the beginning of the 2021 season. Luis Severino, a former All-Star, is getting back from Tommy John surgical procedure. Jordan Montgomery and Deivi Garcia, a rookie, had been inconsistent in 2020. Domingo German is getting back from an 81-game suspension associated to his violation of the league’s home violence coverage.
By way of the opposite weaknesses on the roster, Cashman mentioned Gary Sanchez, who was among the many worst hitters in baseball in 2020 and was benched in the course of the playoffs, could be the “inheritor obvious” to the beginning catcher’s job subsequent season.
He mentioned the Yankees additionally hoped for a bounceback yr from shortstop Gleyber Torres, who reported for the interrupted season’s second “spring coaching” out of practice, was slowed by accidents and regressed within the area. Whether or not LeMahieu returns will even decide the place Torres performs subsequent season.
Regardless of the likelihood that the beginning of the 2021 season could possibly be delayed by the pandemic, Cashman and Boone mentioned the Yankees had been working as if spring coaching would begin as introduced, in mid-February.