Yankees fans have been hounding the ownership to re-sign second baseman DJ LeMahieu. LeMahieu is coming off a batting title, two top-five MVP seasons in a row, and he’s a fan favorite. How could there be anything better than him?
Well, not only would Francisco Lindor be a better baseball fit than LeMahieu, he would also be cheaper.
YES Network’s Michael Kay brings up a great point. DJ LeMahieu is 32 years old and is likely expecting a 5-year contract, which means they’d be stuck with him until he’s 37. That matters. Part of Yankees GM Brian Cashman’s job is to project what type of player LeMahieu might be down the road, and age is certainly a factor in making that determination.
Now let’s break down what the Yankees truly need. They’re known across baseball as a “right-handed heavy” roster that struggles on defense. If Cashman pulled the trigger on the switch-hitting Lindor, he would not only be solving the Yankees’ right handed issue, but he would also solve some of the defensive woes as well. Lindor is a five-tool player, a true baseball Swiss army knife.
So how does adding one of the game’s best players make financial sense?
Well, if the Yankees deal for Lindor, they can expect to pay him in the ballpark of $21 million in 2021. According to multiple Yankees insiders, they’re anticipating a deal with LeMahieu to eclipse $21 million per year anyway. So what’s the harm in finding another superstar that simply provides more of what the Yankees need to win?
Lindor will be hoping for an extension next offseason, and that can bring stress to an organization. However, the Dodgers ignored a similar snag when they signed Mookie Betts away from Boston back in February, and it’s worked out just fine for them. The Red Sox traded multiple prospects without any guarantees Betts would sign long-term, yet the Dodgers signed him anyway. Here we stand today with Mookie Betts inked as a Dodger until 2032.
How about the players coming off the Yankees’ books this off-season?
Brett Gardner- $12.5 million
Masahiro Tanaka- $22 million
James Paxton- $12.5 million
DJ LeMahieu- $12 million
That’s $59 million in expiring contracts, and most of them are for players who contributed little last season. The Bombers are expecting outfielder Clint Frazier to man left field going forward, and former Yankees ace Luis Severino is returning from Tommy John surgery to help replace Tanaka. So the idea that the Yankees “can’t afford” another star is a sham. New York simply needs to be more flexible with how they use their money. Instead of signing LeMahieu back for roughly $24 million a year for the next five years, why not trade for Lindor instead?
In this trade, the Yankees would be signing a 26-year-old player who would fix half their issues. As Michael Kay pointed out earlier this week, having Lindor would allow the Yankees to move Gleyber Torres back to second base, which he prefers. There are a lot of upsides to this deal that make an inevitable 12-year, $350 million deal for Lindor down the road sound not so bad.
But do the Yankees really need Lindor?
If they want to win now, then yes. Plain and simple. Did the Dodgers need Mookie Betts? No, but they went out and got him anyway to make sure they were the best team in 2020. When you want to win World Series titles, sometimes you have to make a great team even better. In this case, the Yankees should make the tough decision and let go of LeMahieu for Lindor.
The Yankees do also need pitchers, but making a deal for a 26-year-old superstar shortstop doesn’t kill the Yankees’ dreams of improving their pitching staff. They can do both, and this plan makes it financially more realistic to do just that.
The biggest reason the Yanks should do it
That smile. Francisco Lindor is already one of the most recognizable baseball players in the world, but he plays in the pathetic market of Cleveland, Ohio. No offense to Cleveland, but there’s a reason Frank Sinatra was so happy in New York he could sing a song. Lindor would quickly become the game’s most popular player, and that in itself should grab the attention of the Yankees ownership.
If the Yankees are happy just making the playoffs and a whole lot of money every year, then fine. But if they really want to cash in with some jewelry for the first time since 2009, they should pick up the phone and grab the future of baseball that is shortstop Francisco Lindor.