DJ LeMahieu tops the list of potential Yankees free agents heading into the offseason. He might end up being the most sought-after free agent of the entire offseason.
But the MLB batting champ hasn’t had any discussions with the Yankees for a contract extension to replace the two-year, $20 million deal he signed before last season.
The source for that information? LeMahieu himself, who said on Thursday: "We’ve communicated in the past that we’re going to worry about it after the season."
The Yankees were trying to keep their season alive Friday night in Game 5 of the ALDS against the Tampa Bay Rays at Petco Park in San Diego. The winner will advance to the ALCS against the Houston Astros, also at Petco.
The loser gets to begin planning for 2021.
No one knows what baseball’s economic landscape will look like this offseason. But most everyone expects LeMahieu to be highly valued if he hits the open market after the 32-year-old became the first player in modern history to win a batting title in both leagues.
"I think if you add up the last two years in major-league baseball, he’s on the shortest of short lists for being the best player in the sport. He’s been that impactful," manager Aaron Boone said. "As good as he is defensively as an infielder for us, and obviously the flexibility he provides us, especially during the regular season where he does actually move around a little bit more, is invaluable. But to be who he’s been at the top of our lineup, a guy that gets on over 40 percent of the time, has hit for power in the biggest moments, always seems to deliver, he’s just been a great player for us. We’ll see what happens, but I hope he’s a Yankee for a long time."
LeMahieu will join Masahiro Tanaka, J.A. Happ and James Paxton as Yankees who will be free agents after the season. Boone has a contract option for 2021 that the club is expected to pick up. He may even be due an extension.
As for LeMahieu, he has flourished in New York after spending his first eight seasons with the Cubs and Rockies. He won the NL batting crown in 2016 with Colorado (.348) and hit .327 and .364 in his first two seasons in pinstripes while playing first, second and third base (not at the same time). Going into Game 5, he had hit safely in all six playoff games (.321 with four RBIs).
Why has he been so good for the Yankees?
"I just think being a Yankee is probably the biggest factor," he said. "Being part of a great lineup, having experience in the past, I just think it’s a lot of factors coming together the last few years. I just think I would (also) say the fans, the atmosphere at Yankee Stadium. We didn’t have that this year, but still. Having just such a deep roster, super talented, great leaders on this team and being able to play in the postseason."