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It is undeniable that DJ LeMahieu has been the Yankees‘ most vital contributor over the last two seasons. When he signed that two-year, $24 million deal in January of 2019, it wasn’t thought to be a huge signing. That belief has changed drastically since. LeMahieu has put up incredible numbers in his two seasons with the Yankees. He has finished top-four in MVP voting both years and has also claimed the second batting title of his career. His ability to stay healthy (something the Yankees have struggled with) and be a consistent hitter has fans, teammates, and Yankees ownership longing to get him back.

However, it has not necessarily been easy coming to terms for a contract. While LeMahieu and the Yankees have expressed mutual interest for an extension, both parties are far apart in discussion. DJ LeMahieu wants a five-year contract, something the Yankees are hesitant to give due to his age. They Yankees are also unwilling, right now, to meet DJ’s price, which is rumored to be upwards of $110 million. Recently, it has gone public that LeMahieu is “dismayed” by the tactics being used by New York.

LeMahieu’s representatives have re-engaged with other interested teams, including the Dodgers, Blue Jays, and Mets. The Braves, Cardinals, and Red Sox also expressed interest at the start of the offseason. Now, whether LeMahieu is looking to sign elsewhere or his team is just trying to bait the Yankees is a mystery. The Yankees have said, however, that they want to see the other offers DJ receives, and that they will match it if they see fit.

No matter where he signs, DJ LeMahieu has undoubtedly earned a large contract. He has the ability to create a spark on offense when needed, and can play almost anywhere in the infield (he does it well too). The only concern with him is age. If he was younger, the Yankees would’ve most likely signed him already. However, he is 32-years-old, meaning a five-year contract would last him until he is 37. It is a big risk to put a large amount of money into retaining him.

Many fans believe it will be the end of the world if Brian Cashman, the Yankees GM, doesn’t pull the trigger and extend DJ. A lot of fans have even called for him to lose his job if he is unable to bring DJ back. What fans don’t see are the benefits of letting him walk.

The Yankees are in dire need of another starting pitcher. Instead of potentially overpaying LeMahieu, the money can go towards a player to solidify the rotation. They can also bring in SS Andrelton Simmons on a one-year deal. While Simmons’ offensive production isn’t as high as LeMahieu’s, it gets the job done. This would also move Gleyber Torres back to 2nd base, which would definitely improve the defense. The SS options next offseason would include names like Trevor Story and Corey Seager, which the Yankees could try to reel in.

Believe me, I would love to see DJ back in pinstripes next season. But right now, anything can happen, and the Yankees need to be preparing for a strategy that doesn’t include DJ LeMahieu.

Photo: Wendell Cruz