DJ LeMahieu is congratulated by Yankees manager Aaron Boone after...

DJ LeMahieu is congratulated by Yankees manager Aaron Boone after hitting a walkoff home run in the bottom of the 11th inning against Oakland at Yankee Stadium on Aug. 31, 2019. Credit: Errol Anderson

Aaron Boone hasn’t reached out to DJ LeMahieu yet to try to woo the free agent into returning to the Yankees.

Boone said on Tuesday that he plans to reach out "before Christmas," which could be an indication that the uncertainty as to whether LeMahieu is going to re-sign with the Yankees is going to stretch beyond the holiday season.

"There’s not much more to say about DJ," the Yankees manager said on a virtual winter meetings Zoom call. "Other than I think if we look over 2019-2020 and did a two-year MVP in the American League, it’s probably him. His play completely speaks for itself and then you couple the fact that he’s this really great teammate that’s been — despite his quiet reputation — a tremendous leader for us and an influential person by the way he goes about things. I think it’s no secret that he’s probably our No. 1 priority to bring back this winter. I know Cash is working on that and hopefully at the end of all this, DJ’s a Yankee for a long time."

"Cash" is, of course, general manager Brian Cashman, who will do his own Zoom news conference on Wednesday.

"Cash" is also what appears to be keeping LeMahieu from the quick return to the Bronx that Yankees fans were hoping for this offseason. Some reports have the Yankees and the 2020 MLB batting champion more than $25 million apart on a four- or five-year contract.

Still, Boone said he is not surprised the negotiations are ongoing.

"Every winter, every negotiation is a little different," Boone said. "Takes on a life of its own. It’s got to play itself out. No, I’m not really surprised. It’ll happen in its own time. Hopefully, that ends up with him being a Yankee, but the reality is DJ’s put himself in a really strong position, even coming off the year that was 2020 and all the uncertainty. The bottom line is he’s earned the right to [look around] and I’m sure understandably has a ton of interest from a lot of different teams."

Those teams could include the Mets, Dodgers, Blue Jays and any other club that wants to add a versatile and prolific infielder who is a gem in the clubhouse.

Boone knows all that firsthand from the last two seasons. LeMahieu presumably knows how Boone feels about him. That doesn’t mean Boone won’t give LeMahieu a call "at some point" in the next week or so.

"As far as getting into the recruiting process with him right now, I haven’t really gone there," Boone said. "I think he knows how, certainly, I feel about him, how the organization feels about him, how our staff feels about him. Usually you don’t have to have a lot of words with DJ. But I’ll hopefully connect with him hopefully more than just my normal touch base before Christmas and talk through anything he needs to from my perspective."

Boone also touched on other topics surrounding free agency:

- On whether he expects Yankee stalwarts Masahiro Tanaka and/or Brett Gardner to re-sign:

"I, generally speaking, always want our guys back. You know that’s not always the reality . . . In the case of Masa, obviously he’s been a great Yankee and a great teammate and someone who is loved here. And I think you can say the same thing about Gardy."

- On whether he thinks the young starting pitchers the Yankees have behind Gerrit Cole will be enough if Cashman doesn’t add any veteran arms:

"It may have to be enough. I’m certainly excited about the people we have behind Gerrit Cole from a depth standpoint, from a number of young guys getting an opportunity to pitch this year and showing a lot of promise. Look, we still have a couple of months for the offseason to unfold and I know Cash is working hard to try and add pitching where he can. But you never know how in the end that’s going to flush out. So you’ve got to be prepared to go in with what you have."

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