The MLB offseason having commenced, four New York Yankees are officially free agents.
Of the four, infielder DJ LeMahieu is the most notable. The Yankees inked LeMahieu to a two-year/$24 million deal in free agency prior to the 2019 season, and he exceeded their wildest expectations. In two seasons in the Bronx, LeMahieu slashed .336/.386/.536 with 36 home runs and 129 home runs over 195 games. FanGraphs says that LeMahieu has been the 12th-most valuable offensive player in baseball since the start of the 2019 season.
The Yankees will almost certainly issue a one-year/$18.9 million qualifying offer to LeMahieu, and he'll almost certainly decline it. The hope from the perspective of the Yankees would then be to reach a lucrative multi-year deal with the 32-year-old. If they weren't able to do so, the Yankees would recoup draft compensation if LeMahieu signs elsewhere, assuming he is issued and declines the qualifying offer.
After seven seasons with the Yankees, Masahiro Tanaka is a free agent for the first time, and it's unclear whether he'll return to the team. A two-time All-Star, Tanaka went 3-3 with a 3.56 ERA and 4.42 FIP in 10 starts this past season.
Lefty James Paxton is set to reach the free-agent market as well. After being acquired from the Seattle Mariners, Paxton went 15-6 with a 3.82 ERA and 3.86 FIP in 2019. He struggled mightily in an injury-riddled contract year of 2020, posting a 6.64 ERA in just five games. Paxton, who will turn 32 next month, is likely going to have to take a one-year, prove-it deal this offseason.
Veteran catcher Erik Kratz, now 40 years old, will also reach the free-agent market.
The Yankees and all other teams have until 5 p.m. ET on Sunday to decide whether to issue qualifying offers to free agents.