The Yankees had a busy day on Wednesday. They announced the re-signing of DJ LeMahieu to a six-year contract worth $90 million and the signing of free agent righthander Corey Kluber to a one-year, $11 million deal.
They also found a less expensive replacement for Adam Ottavino when they agreed to terms on a one-year, $1.75 million deal with former Mets righthander Darren O’Day, according to a baseball source.
The contract for O’Day, 38, also has a player option for 2022 that includes a $700,000 buyout, so O’Day is guaranteed at least $2.45 million and could make as much as $4.9 million over two years.
O’Day is a sidearming specialist who will replace Ottavino, who was traded to the Red Sox on Monday in a cost-cutting move because of his $9 million salary.
LeMahieu’s lengthy deal, which stretches until he is 38 years old, was agreed to on Jan. 15, as was Kluber’s.
LeMahieu’s deal has an average annual value of $15 million. The major leagues’ 2020 batting champion got more years than he might have elsewhere, and the Yankees got financial flexibility to add players this offseason while attempting to remain under the $210 million luxury tax threshold.
LeMahieu hit .364 in 2020 and has been the Yankees’ best player since signing a two-year, $24 million free agent contract before the 2019 season. The Yankees built their whole offseason strategy around re-signing "The Machine," and their patience paid off, even though talks took longer than most expected.
At one point, LeMahieu was said to be "dismayed" by the slow pace of negotiations. But the sides eventually hammered out the deal and maintained what has been a brilliant relationship.
LeMahieu will be the Yankees’ primary second baseman in his third season in pinstripes. He has played every position in the infield for the Yankees except shortstop. His return means the Yankees are committed to Gleyber Torres as their shortstop, at least for 2020.
Kluber, 34, is a two-time Cy Young Award winner with Cleveland. He threw only one inning for Texas last season before a shoulder injury ended his season. The Yankees are hoping they will catch lightning in a bottle with Kluber, who reportedly had multiple guaranteed offers before agreeing to join the Yankees.
This offseason, the Yankees have re-signed reliever Zack Britton, have signed Kluber, have traded for former Pirates righthander Jameson Taillon, and with the signing of O’Day might be done in the arms department.
It seems increasingly unlikely that Masahiro Tanaka will return to the Bronx after finishing his seven-year contract. Tanaka is said to be considering an offer to pitch in Japan.
The signs are more promising for a reunion with outfielder Brett Gardner, who could come back on a one-year deal as the Yankees’ final major move of the offseason.
O’Day, who has held righthanded hitters to a .549 career OPS, started his career with the Angels in 2008. He pitched in four games with the Mets in 2009 before he was lost on waivers to the Rangers. After spending the bulk of his career with the Orioles and making the All-Star team in 2015, O’Day spent the last two seasons with Atlanta. In 2020, he appeared in 19 games and was 4-0 with a 1.10 ERA.