With a disappointing season in the rearview mirror, the New York Yankees needed to make specific improvements in free agency. On Friday, they were able to complete the moves necessary to keep their chances at a title intact. They were able to resign the most valuable free agent in the league, D.J. LeMahieu and sign Corey Kluber. The Yankees are probably still not done in free agency, as three of the biggest free agents are still available. The Yankees’ free agency was good for their immediate future, but how will it impact them in the long run?
Just two months ago, I correctly predicted that DJ would resign in New York. LeMahieu decided to sign a 6-year, 90-million-dollar deal, which was shocking. In my opinion, D.J. deserved a lot more money, especially considering that other top signees signed bigger per-year deals than the superstar infielder. The Yankees’ free agency was so big because not only did they bring back their best hitter, but they did so for cheap.
LeMahieu is probably the most versatile free agent on the market. He has spent most of his time at second base in New York, but also played third and first. The star is a gold glover at second, but his time at first was practical when replacing Luke Voit. Not only is he good defensively, but the 2x batting title winner fits in every lineup in baseball. LeMahieu is not the fastest, but he can hit leadoff if needed. The silver slugger can also hit behind Aaron Judge in the 3 hole with his increasing power numbers.
For a more in depth look at the Yankees’ free agency signing of LeMahieu, check out my older D.J. article here.
Kluber has only pitched 36 innings over the past two years, but he was dominant before that. If he can return to form, then he will be an excellent addition to a desperate Yankees rotation. The starter was a twenty-game winner the season before he got injured and finished top 3 in Cy Young voting 4 out of the 5 years leading up to injury. The Yankees signed the 3-time all-star for a one year, 11-million-dollar deal. Kluber reportedly wants a one-year deal to prove himself, and the Yankees hope he does. During his 30-pitch showcase, the former Indian starter impressed nearly every MLB team. His fastball and off-speed pitches both looked good, and NY hopes he stays healthy.
Many think that the Yankees’ free agency signings were perfect, and I can only see one problem. LeMahieu’s contract will last up until his age-37 season, so he will be getting old. Luckily, D.J. is the best pure hitter in baseball, and that is unlikely to see a major decline with age. Even if D.J. sees an immediate decline in production or even injury, his contract isn’t too expensive. Most Yankees fans can still recall a deal made with Jacoby Ellsbury that was much worse. LeMahieu is likely to stay in MVP voting for at least two years, and possibly more.
Kluber may have the opposite problem. His contract is only a one-year deal, and if he proves himself instantly, the Yankees are in trouble. His price will drastically rise, and the rest of the MLB will be all over him. If he really can be the old Kluber, however, he will be the Yankees’ number two starter. A 1-2 combo of Cole and prime Kluber will instantly put New York in a World Series with their offense. That is a big question mark, unfortunately, but I am excited to see how the pitching staff ends up.
A City of Titles
With the Mets on the rise, New York will soon again be the city of champions. I expect that in the coming weeks we will see at least one big free agent sign in New York. (J.T. Realmuto, George Springer, Trevor Bauer) If the Yankees can go out and get more pitching, and the Mets can patch up the bullpen and gain a centerfielder, we could see an all-New York World Series very soon. D.J. LeMahieu puts the Yankees firmly in the playoffs, but a prime Corey Kluber wins them a title.
More MLB free agency predictions here!
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