Want to have yourself a good laugh to distract yourself from current horrors of the world? Go back to our community reaction post from almost exactly two years ago, when the Yankees signed free agent infielder DJ LeMahieu to a two-year, $24 million contract.
Fast forward 24 months, and wow, that changed. After two MVP-caliber seasons, Yankees Universe rejoiced after LeMahieu re-signed with the Yanks on a six-year, $90 million deal, ending a frustrating stretch of nearly three months that saw fans impatiently wait for a move that seemed like a no-brainer.
So, after universally hating the signing, the consensus is that DJ LeMahieu’s latest deal is a bargain for the Yankees. They gave the reigning batting champion additional years in exchange for a lower annual earning, which the Yankees probably planned in order to stay under the luxury tax.
Speaking of the Yankees’ money-saving motives, the media saw the signing as a win-win for both the franchise and LeMahieu himself. It always seemed like LeMahieu wanted to stay in the Bronx, and the Yankees clearly want to limit their payroll, and the added years/lower annual value of the contract was seen as a best-case scenario for both sides.
DJ LeMahieu and the #Yankees are coming to the finish line on their long-awaited agreement. Believed to be six years, $90 million. @feinsand on it.— Bryan Hoch (@BryanHoch) January 15, 2021
That deal works for both sides. With an AAV of $15M, that will help the Yankees' efforts to come in under the $210M luxury tax.
Second baseman DJ LeMahieu and the New York Yankees are finalizing a six-year, $90M contract, sources familiar with the agreement tell ESPN.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) January 15, 2021
LeMahieu’s return to New York always felt inevitable. It took a while. But he wanted to be there and Yankees get top free agent target.
So in the end, the Yankees get DJ LeMahieu back on a crazy good deal. I don't think they care what happens to him after year 4. Those last 2 years were just for luxury tax purposes. He barely got a raise after having two of the best seasons of his career! Now onto pitching— Dan Federico (@DanJFederico) January 15, 2021
LeMahieu had been projected to land in the range of Josh Donaldson's 4-year, $92M deal. He wound up getting $90M over 6 years, which is still a very solid deal for both sides, especially in the current pandemic-influenced climate. DJ and NYY wanted a reunion and made one happen.— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) January 15, 2021
Want to know who REALLY loved the LeMahieu signing? LeMahieu’s teammates, who have watched him rake for the past two years while recording three of the biggest hits the team has had since he signed (2019 ALCS games five and six, 2020 Wild Card Series game two). With that in mind, Yankee players were quick to celebrate when they heard the news.
Of course, there is the reality that a six-year deal means LeMahieu will be close to 40 by the time his contract runs out, which puts him in rare company:
With reports that DJ LeMahieu's new contract with the Yankees is for 6 years & $90M:— Sarah Langs (@SlangsOnSports) January 15, 2021
6+ year FA deal, entering age 32 season or older (since 1991):
2016 Zack Greinke
2012 Albert Pujols
2011 Jayson Werth
2008 Alex Rodriguez
2003 Jim Thome
2001 Mike Mussina
1999 Kevin Brown
But who are we kidding, this is a machine we’re talking about...
DJ LeMahieu, hitting .364 in the final year of his contract pic.twitter.com/oZKszUHJ6v— Jake Montgomery (@JakeM0NTGOMERY) January 15, 2021
What a difference two years makes, am I right? After being seen as one of the more puzzling signings in the 2019 offseason, LeMahieu’s return to the Bronx is now seen as a no-brainer, with the only question being: what took so long?