The Blue Jays have nothing to lose by making DJ LeMahieu their most aggressive offer, whether he’s truly interested in Toronto or not.
As the rumours of DJ LeMahieu’s frustration with the Yankees floated around over the last couple of days, I’ve been surprised to see the sentiments from many Blue Jays fans.
There are plenty of us who are excited about the idea that LeMahieu might move on from New York, for multiple reasons, but especially because that could mean the Blue Jays have a legitimate chance to sign the star infielder. However, I’ve seen many instances of, “Why bother? He’s just using the Blue Jays to drive up the price the Yankees have to pay.”
To that I say, “so what?”
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If that’s the case, and it may very well be, then the Blue Jays would literally have nothing to lose by making him a big offer. I’m not sure they want to go as far as calling his bluff about wanting to stay in New York by offering something outrageous, but I wouldn’t be any less serious about putting a deal in front of his agent.
In a best case scenario, the Blue Jays end up with the impact player they’ve been seeking all winter long. LeMahieu would be a great fit in Toronto as a respected veteran, and arguably one of the top 10 all-around hitters in baseball over the last few years. There’s a lot to like about a potential fit in Toronto, and it’s not a bad fallback plan for the 2x Silver Slugger award winner.
In a worst case scenario, making your best offer will only drive up the cost of what the Yankees have to pay to retain him. That’s a worthwhile venture on its own, especially as the Bronx Bombers have been conservative over the winter in an effort to stay below the luxury tax. If their lax of urgency over LeMahieu is any evidence, they seem to be serious about being financially responsible. They also have expensive extensions to sign over the next few years, including Aaron Judge, who will be a free agent after the 2022 season.
The latest rumours indicate that LeMahieu’s camp is looking for at least five years and 110 million, which is what J.D. Martinez received from the Red Sox a few years ago. In today’s landscape, and keeping his recent success in mind, it might not be an outrageous ask. Former MLB GM Jim Duquette talked about how the Blue Jays could be a real threat to sign LeMahieu, especially if they make an offer in that range.
As I’ve mentioned above, Duquette also discusses how LeMahieu’s agents might just be trying to drive up the price the Yankees have to pay. From what we’ve heard so far this offseason, they’re looking to bring their MVP candidate back on an offer around four years and 75 million. That’s clearly not going to get it done, but you’d have to think the Yankees would find a little more cash in the drawer if it kept LeMahieu away from an emerging division rival in the Blue Jays.
The only downside for Ross Atkins and company is that an offer like this to LeMahieu could stall some of their other plans. They haven’t exactly been pushing the envelope when it comes to a timeline though, and they could always tell LeMahieu’s camp that it’s a conditional offer, or even put a timeline on it. No matter how they draw it up, I think there are a ton of reasons to figure out what the best offer the Blue Jays are comfortable making, and then put it in the veteran’s hands. Worst case scenario, he’ll just cost the Yankees (or maybe the Dodgers) a little more.