Yankees and DJ LeMahieu finalizing $90 million deal
The Yankees are finally closing in on DJ LeMahieu.
LeMahieu is nearing a $90 million deal — for five or six years — to head back to The Bronx, a source confirmed.
It would mark the end of a long negotiation between the two sides that both wanted the same result, although the Dodgers, Blue Jays and Mets all showed interest.
The 32-year-old LeMahieu is coming off two standout seasons in The Bronx after signing with the Yankees for two years and $24 million prior to the 2019 season.
At the time, LeMahieu seemed an unlikely fit in a crowded Yankee infield, but he quickly became invaluable, providing consistent offense and a solid glove at second base, in addition to first and third.
General manager Brian Cashman made it clear LeMahieu was the Yankees’ top priority this offseason and they were willing to let other potential free agent targets sign elsewhere as the two sides negotiated.
“I understand by waiting on something you want and trying to find ways to make it happen … comes with risk,” Cashman said earlier in December. “That has a downside to it, too, but there are certain players you feel are more worth the waiting game on, and I think DJ LeMahieu is worth that.”
Aaron Boone agreed, saying, “It’s no secret he is probably our No. 1 priority to bring back this winter. I know [Cashman] is working on that … Hopefully, at the end of all this, DJ is a Yankee for a very long time.”
In September, LeMahieu expressed his desire to remain in The Bronx.
“I want to stay here, but you never know how it goes,’’ LeMahieu said at the time. “I thought I was going to stay in Colorado and I didn’t. Hoping to be back here but you never know how it goes.’’
Now, he is back, which figures to be good news for the Yankees, who have come to rely on LeMahieu’s consistency both on the field and in the clubhouse.
LeMahieu’s return likely keeps Gleyber Torres at second, with Luke Voit at first base and Gio Urshela at third.
Cashman ruled out the possibility of shifting LeMahieu to first, which would allow Torres to return to second base — where he’s less of a defensive liability — and trading Voit.
“I am not pursuing a plan of trying to trade Luke Voit to sign LeMahieu to play first,” Cashman said. “My plan is, if we sign [LeMahieu], for him to play second base.”
The negotiations were complicated by the economic state of the game due to COVID-19, with team owner Hal Steinbrenner claiming the Yankees lost the most revenue in the majors last year.
And though the team hasn’t announced it publicly, it’s clear they intend to stay below the $210 million luxury tax threshold in 2021, leaving not much room to add beyond LeMahieu without moving other significant contracts.