Yankees manager Aaron Boone says he’s not worried about lack of progress in re-signing DJ LeMahieu

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Aaron Boone has DJ LeMahieu on his Christmas list. It’s no surprise as the free agent infielder has been the Yankees managers’ most consistent and best player over the last two years. The Bombers have not been shy about saying that re-signing the All-Star infielder is their top priority this winter. Unlike last year when Boone was an active recruiter in the process of signing Gerrit Cole, he’s taking a less aggressive role in the pursuit of LeMahieu.

“Usually you don’t have to have a lot of words with DJ,” Boone said with a laugh about the notoriously quiet LeMahieu.

This winter, LeMahieu is letting his agent do the talking in pursuit of a multi-year deal. Coming off his second career batting title, the only player in the modern era to win it in both the National and American leagues, LeMahieu has other suitors as he looks for a deal worth around $100 million. The Nationals, Dodgers and Blue Jays have all reportedly shown interest in LeMahieu. While the Yankees are reportedly well under that amount right now, industry sources continue to expect LeMahieu to return to the Bronx.

The 32-year-old is the Yankees’ planned big buy this winter and Boone is not concerned about the time and tone of the negotiations.

“I think we’ve all probably been around this game long enough to know every winter, every negotiation, is a little bit different. [It] takes on a life of its own and just got to play itself out,” Boone said. “I’m not really surprised. It’ll happen in its own time. And hopefully that ends up with him being a Yankee. The reality is DJ’s put himself in a really strong position, even coming off of the year that was 2020 and all this uncertainty.

“The bottom line is he’s earned the right. I’m sure understandably he has a ton of interest from a lot of different teams. So, I respect and understand that process and know that each year is a little bit different in how it unfolds.”

So much of what the Yankees can do this offseason — and what Boone can expect to work with in 2021 — depends on what happens with LeMahieu.

But the Yankees have other issues that they need to address.

Their rotation right now is just Cole, Jordan Montgomery, the hope that Luis Severino returns from Tommy John in June or July and that Domingo German can return successfully after missing the 2020 season serving a domestic violence suspension. He has a shortstop in Gleyber Torres that GM Brian Cashman called last week “a better second baseman,” and a team with a history of injuries.

Boone said he is looking at 2021 through a “hopeful lens” as the first doses of the coronavirus vaccine are being rolled out. The virus, which has killed over 300,000 Americans and sent the national economy spiraling, also delivered a hard blow to baseball which claims to have lost $2 billion on the 60-game shortened season that was played without fans in the ballpark. The Yankees claim to have lost the most money in baseball, believed to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars and so their ability to go out and spend away those holes is limited.

Boone said he hopes the Yankees are able to add some veteran arms, but is confident in the young pitchers that got a chance in 2020 like Deivi Garcia, Mike King, Clarke Schmidt and Nick Nelson. He expects Torres to be in better shape heading into spring training and that will help him at shortstop and said this is the first full offseason that the Yankees will be under the control of strength and conditioning coordinator Eric Creesey, which the Yankees hope will bring down the impact of injuries.

Boone is even hopeful that the Yankees can find a way to bring back veterans Masahiro Tanaka and Brett Gardner.

“You always want all our guys back, but that’s not always the reality, even in the best of situations there’s going to be turnover every now and then,” Boone said. “I hope that’s not the case with those guys, we’ll see where this winter ends up shaking out. We’ve got a long way to go.”

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