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You're the GM: Where does DJ LeMahieu fit in Yankees plans as they try to get over the hump?

Mark Townsend
·Yahoo Sports Contributor
·4-min read

Every New York Yankees offseason is an event unto itself. The reason why is twofold.

First and foremost, the Yankees are expected to compete for a World Series championship each and every season. That sets the bar extremely high. Considering it has now been 11 seasons since New York took home the World Series trophy, the bar is even higher heading into this winter.

Beyond that, unlike most MLB franchises, the expectation is that general manager Brian Cashman will have the resources available to make a splashy move — or two — each and every winter. For example, last offseason Cashman splurged on an ace, signing Gerrit Cole to a nine-year, $324 million contract. Two years before that, he took on the contract of slugging outfielder Giancarlo Stanton in a trade with the Miami Marlins.

For some teams, those are once-in-a-decade or even once-in-a-generation moves. For New York, it's commonplace for a new franchise-altering superstar to join the team.

That trend could easily continue this winter. There are several big-ticket free agents and potential blockbuster trade candidates available that would fill big needs for New York. On the other side of the coin, it's possible New York's best moves this winter wouldn't necessarily add new stars to the mix, but instead keep current stars from leaving.

Below, we've formulated three offseason plans that we would consider executing in an attempt to best position New York to achieve its ultimate goal in 2021. Then we'll let you decide which plan would work the best.

SAN DIEGO, CA - OCTOBER 07:  DJ LeMahieu #26 of the New York Yankees rounds third base to score a run in the fifth inning during Game 3 of the ALDS between the New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays at Petco Park on Wednesday, October 7, 2020 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
Will the Yankees prioritize any offseason moves ahead of bringing back MVP candidate DJ LeMahieu? (Photo by Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

Make the splashy signing: Sign Trevor Bauer, focus on bullpen

Signing Trevor Bauer would certainly qualify as splashy. The soon-to-be 30-year-old right-hander is coming off a Cy Young season with the Cincinnati Reds and, along with Gerrit Cole, would form a potentially dominant 1-2 punch. When you think about October and the urgency of a short series deciding your season, having that combination at your disposal would be a huge advantage.

That has the potential to strain clubhouse dynamics — Bauer and Cole were once college teammates at UCLA, but have a chilly dynamic at best. And of course, such a signing would strain any team’s payroll. Even the Yankees. Most notably, signing Bauer could make re-signing DJ LeMahieu less likely. LeMahieu has been a driving force for New York's lineup since signing a bargain two-year, $24 million contract before the 2019 season. Replacing the MVP finalist would be no easy task. Inside the organization, Tyler Wade might be the best fit. Outside it, we would take a close look at pursuing veteran infielders Tommy La Stella or Jurickson Profar on short-term deals.

We’ll also have to decide between spending money to re-sign Masahiro Tanaka and/or James Paxton, or adding to the bullpen. With Bauer in the mix, we would focus on adding a couple proven relievers, with Liam Hendriks, Kirby Yates and Alex Colome appearing to be the best options.

Make the splashy trade: Acquire Francisco Lindor from Cleveland

Another potential earth-shattering move would be acquiring Francisco Lindor from the Cleveland Indians. The middle infield is an area New York needs to shore up. It’s also no secret that Lindor is available as Cleveland seeks to shed payroll. Acquiring — and then offering a monster extension to — Lindor could solve that issue for the next 8-10 years.

Of course, acquiring Lindor could take us out of the running for Bauer and LeMahieu. The rotation could be shored up by re-signing Masahiro Tanaka and adding another veteran or two, like Charlie Morton or Taijuan Walker. To replace LeMahieu, aforementioned La Stella and Profar would again be good fits. Then again, the Yankees are always an attractive destination, so maybe we can aim higher without having to spend a lot more.

Stay the course: Re-sign DJ LeMahieu, add a shortstop

Another option is simply focusing on keeping the core intact. That would include re-signing LeMahieu, Tanaka and possibly James Paxton, before shifting our attention to areas of need.

If we decide shortstop is the next highest priority, Andrelton Simmons and Marcus Semien could easily step in as one- or two-year options. Another move that could be available is acquiring Trevor Story from the Colorado Rockies. The Rockies seem open to trading Story as he approaches free agency next winter. He could be an alternative long-term answer if there’s room in the budget.

If shoring up the bullpen around Aroldis Chapman is the highest priority, pursuing trades for Josh Hader or Raisel Iglesias could be on the table. Both bring late-inning experience that would allow manager Aaron Boone more flexibility.

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