MLB rumors: Yankees’ quest to keep DJ LeMahieu gets ‘ray of sunshine’

There seems to be new DJ LeMahieu rumors every day even though the Yankees usually get what they want and re-signing the 2020 batting champ tops their offseason wish list.

Thursday’s report from Joel Sherman of the New York Post listed the Mets, Dodgers and Blue Jays as possible serious threats to sign LeMahieu, who is seeking a five-year, $100-million contract after joining the Yankees two winters ago on a two-year, $24-million pact. Also Monday, Buster Olney of tweeted that free agent outfielder Michael Brantley could be a backup plan for the Yankees if they lose LeMahieu.

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If any of that info worries Yankees fans, YES Network baseball insider Jack Curry painted a different picture by night’s end. Commenting on Yankees Hot Stove, Curry provided an update and prediction on LeMahieu.

“It is going to be slow this offseason,” Curry said. “Things are going to move at a snail’s pace. One baseball executive said to me, ‘It’s going to be a cold stove.’ And we’ve seen that so far. But here’s the ray of sunshine. Here’s the positive news: the Yankees and DJ LeMahieu have had conversations. They have been positive conversations.

“Here’s the thing: The Yankees put a number out there. They evaluate what they think the player is worth. They did that last year with Gerrit Cole, and they ended up having to go a little higher than they wanted it to go for Gerrit Cole. I think they’ve told DJ LeMahieu how much they prioritize him, how much they want him back. I think his agent is listening to that. I think they’re trying to engage with other teams, but I still think DJ LeMahieu ends up signing with the Yankees.”

Talks may heat up next week when GMs and agents engage during baseball’s first virtual Winter Meetings, which will run Monday through Thursday.

“I think now that we’ve passed the non-tender day (on Wednesday), I do think that we could see more activity,” Curry added. “I do think that teams might move forward and try and make deals.

“One interesting thing to me about DJ LeMahieu: Don’t evaluate players on what happened in a 60-game season, except if it’s DJ LeMahieu He hit .364 and won a batting title, and everybody said, ‘Yep, that’s about what you expect from DJ LeMahieu.’”

LeMahieu, 32, had some very good seasons before joining the Yankees, then enjoyed his two best playing in New York in 2019 and 2020.

This year, LeMahieu hit an MLB-best .364 with 10 homers, 27 RBI and a 1.011 OPS in 50 games, production that led to a third-place finish in the American League MVP vote. The year before, he batted .327 with 26 homers, 102 RBI and an .893 OPS. That year he finished fourth in the AL MVP voting.

Before that, LeMahieu won a National League batting title and three Gold Gloves playing second base from 2012-18 for the Colorado Rockies.

LeMahieu is on record stating he hopes to stay with the Yankees, and the Yankees have made it clear repeatedly how much they love what LeMahieu brings. Now, all the sides have to do is work out a new deal with other clubs potentially driving up the price.

“The Yankees have, I believe, the inside track to bring him back,” Curry said. “His agent has talked about five years, $100 million. I’m not sure the Yankees want to swim as deep into those waters, but I do believe that they have prioritized him and they want to make a deal.”

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