The Yankees are on the verge of bringing back free-agent infielder D.J. LeMahieu on a deal worth $90 million over six years, according to CBS Sports HQ front office insider Jim Bowden. The Yankees finally confirmed the move on Jan. 27.
LeMahieu, 32, has only spent the last two years of his career with the Yankees, but he finished fourth in MVP voting in 2019 and third in 2020. Last season, he hit .364/.421/.590 (177 OPS+) with 10 doubles, two triples, 10 homers, 27 RBI and 41 runs in 50 games. The reigning AL batting champion led the majors in average while also pacing the AL in on-base percentage, OPS and OPS+.
Landing back in the Bronx was always the most likely conclusion for the free agent infielder, but talks between both sides extended for months in the uncertain 2020-21 MLB offseason. From the Yankees' standpoint, spreading the $90 million commitment across six seasons makes it less of a hit in terms of the Competitive Balance tax (CBT). Payrolls for CBT purposes are calculated according to the average annual value of contracts, and spreading LeMahieu's deal across six seasons means a modest $15 million hit per year.
LeMahieu will slide right back into that leadoff spot in front of the likes of Aaron Hicks, Aaron Judge, Luke Voit, Giancarlo Stanton and others. There was always the chance of the Yankees grabbing a shortstop and moving Gleyber Torres to second base, but bringing back LeMahieu likely means he will remain at second -- which leaves Torres at short.