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January 15, 2021 was no ordinary winter day in January. January 15, 2021 will be etched in New York Yankees history as the return of the prized and highly-respected infielder DJ LeMahieu to The Bronx. In addition to the reunion of LeMahieu, General Manager Brian Cashman and co. also acquired veteran right-hander and two-time Cy Young award winner, Corey Kluber. These two moves headline the leisurely off-season for the New York Yankees.

Entering the 2020 offseason, the Yankees’ front office had one goal in mind: keep DJ LeMahieu in pinstripes. Well it took roughly three months, but the goal was accomplished as LeMahieu and the New York Yankees agreed to terms on a six-year, $90 million contract, per ESPN’s Jeff Passan. LeMahieu has been the top offensive player in The Bronx and many believe him to be the team’s best player since he arrived in 2019. The two-time batting champ signed a two-year deal in 2018 with New York and has overachieved all expectations surrounding the contract. Placing top-four in back-to-back American League MVP voting, LeMahieu has categorized himself as an elite hitter in today’s game. With two batting titles under his belt, one in the NL and one in the AL, the former second-round pick out of LSU has been a leader and a franchise star in The Bronx.

Inking a six-year, $90 million contract with $15 million AAV, many could say the perennial MVP was underpaid. But in the times of a decreasing market, teams, including the Yankees, were not willing to spend more than they actually needed to. LeMahieu, 32, has aged like fine wine and has not shown any signs of slowing down. Slotted as the third hitter in the power-filled Yankees line up, LeMahieu crushed a .364 batting average with 71 hits in the shortened 60 game season. Leading the chase for number 28, DJ LeMahieu is ready for action as the Yankees look to capture their first World Series title since 2009.

In addition to LeMahieu, the Yankees landed another star free agent, right-handed starting pitcher Corey Kluber. Kluber entering his age-35, has slipped under-the-radar this offseason and lands a one-year, $11 million deal with New York. The Yankees desperately needed rotational depth and with the acquisition of the nine-year veteran, this makes the pairing perfect. Kluber currently holds a 3.16 career ERA along with 98 wins in 208 games. Though only making eight starts since his All-Star 2018 season, questions surround Kluber and his durability through a 162-game season. Nagging injuries, increasing age, and health concerns could prove pivotal in a make-or-break season in the one-year signing.

With success in his rearview mirror, answers have yet to be shown on which “style” of Corey Kluber the Yankees will get in the coming 2021 season. Many believe he will return to his old, dominating, Cleveland Indians Cy Young award winning-self. No hitter could get in the way of Indians’ Kluber as he was arguably the best pitcher on the planet. But, detractors could sense that Kluber may bring an average brand of baseball and could possibly bounce on and off the IL during the ’21 season. Though signing a veteran like Kluber is a medium-risk, high-reward for the Bronx Bombers as it adds depth to their depleted rotation.

With free agency far from over, the Yankees should very much be in the market for another starting pitcher. The Yankees need to be ready to adjust and adapt on the run through a full season. Eager and proven free agent starting pitchers on the market include Jake Arrieta, Jose Quintana and Masahiro Tanaka. The ball in is Brian Cashman’s hands.

Photo: APU