Brian Cashman knows ‘risk’ growing in DJ LeMahieu waiting game
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The Yankees’ inability to re-sign DJ LeMahieu at this point “is certainly driving the bus a little bit” in terms of their offseason while general manager Brian Cashman is willing to let other free-agent targets land elsewhere as he pursues his prized target.
“I understand by waiting on something you want and trying to find ways to make it happen… comes with risk,” Cashman said Wednesday on a Zoom call. “That has a downside to it, too, but there are certain players you feel are more worth the waiting game on, and I think DJ LeMahieu is worth that.”
Much like with Gerrit Cole a year ago, the Yankees have put nearly everything else on hold as they try to come to an agreement with LeMahieu. On Monday, The Post’s Joel Sherman reported LeMahieu and the Yankees remained more than $25 million apart in contract negotiations.
The GM added Wednesday there are “no promises, no guarantees” that the Yankees will get their guy. He added he doesn’t have a “pinkie promise” from LeMahieu’s agent, Joel Wolfe, that the Yankees will get a final call if LeMahieu receives an offer he is willing to accept from another team.
In the meantime, the Yankees’ other areas of need could go unfilled, whether that’s starting pitching or outfield depth.
Cashman has been in touch with the agents for Masahiro Tanaka and Brett Gardner, but both longtime Yankees remain unsigned as the LeMahieu situation works itself out.
The GM also made it clear he’s only interested in LeMahieu as a second baseman, erasing any possibility of bringing back the 32-year-old to play first base, moving Gleyber Torres back to second base, adding a shortstop and potentially trading Luke Voit.
“I am not pursuing a plan of trying to trade Luke Voit to sign LeMahieu to play first,” Cashman said. “My plan is, if we sign [LeMahieu], for him to play second base.”
Cashman noted shifting LeMahieu to first base would negate some of the advantage they get from LeMahieu’s offense. Instead, Cashman wants to keep Voit — who led the American League in homers in 2020 — at first and take advantage of LeMahieu’s versatility and unique skill set at the plate and in the infield.
“I think we’d be short-circuiting the true value of DJ LeMahieu by signing him to play first,” Cashman said. “His true value is at second, both with his defense and offensive profile.”
LeMahieu signed with the Yankees in 2018 for two years and $24 million, seemingly coming out of nowhere to bring in the free agent. Cashman is afraid of being on the other side of that kind of stealth move this time around.
“The unknown is the most important factor,” Cashman said.
Which is why Cashman is also performing his due diligence on opportunities to acquire other players. Still, he’s not going to strike on anything major until LeMahieu makes his decision.
Cashman said issuing an ultimatum to LeMahieu to make a decision was “a last resort” that Cashman didn’t seem close to making.
“Anything that’s come off the board prior to [Wednesday], for instance, came off the board because I’m willing to wait to hopefully find a way to navigate the negotiations successfully with DJ LeMahieu,” Cashman said. “The atmosphere is good [with] the fact he wants to stay and we’d like to keep him, but that doesn’t guarantee anything because in free agency, anything can happen.’’
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