By Joe Pantorno
The Yankees extended just a lone qualifying offer on Sunday to veteran infielder and natural-hitting extraordinaire DJ LeMahieu — the only Yankee to receive such an offer.
As he mulls the option of taking an $18.9 million deal, his teammates in Masahiro Tanaka and James Paxton become unrestricted free agents.
While the 32-year-old would see a nearly $6 million raise by accepting the offer, it’s expected that LeMahieu will be looking for a multi-year deal to provide some stability in the second half of his career.
It shouldn’t be that large of an ask considering what he’s done in his two seasons in the Bronx after being written off by the Colorado Rockies.
He followed up a 2019 All-Star season in which he finished fourth in the American League MVP voting by slashing .327/.375/.518 with 26 home runs and 102 RBI by winning the AL batting title in 2020 with a .364 average alongside a league-leading .421 on-base percentage and 1.011 OPS.
Needless to say, he was the Yankees’ most valuable offensive weapon, which is saying plenty considering the wealth of firepower within their ranks — all while carving out what is expected to be a long-term home at second base.
What could a beneficial deal look like, for both sides, however?
As one of the very best natural hitters in the game, LeMahieu could be commanding a bit more than the Yankees’ qualifying offer, but not much.
An average annual salary in the neighborhood of $20 million is a fair ask, considering the likes of Xander Bogaerts, Buster Posey, Matt Carpenter, and Kris Bryant all make around that figure. And LeMahieu has boasted more production over the last two years than all of them excluding Bogaerts.
Ensuring that he’s able to stay in the Bronx for an extended period of time will only appeal more to LeMahieu considering he’s 32.
A four-year deal that would run through his age 35 season, ending when he is 36, guarantees a secure stay while the Yankees get the best remaining productive years out of LeMahieu before the eventual drop-off.
By those means, something in the neighborhood of a four-year, $80 million contract should do the trick to keep LeMahieu in the Bronx.