It was more than a week ago that Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said he was prepared to lose out on the opportunity to sign other players as he waited on DJ LeMahieu’s free-agent decision.
So far, that decision has yet to really cost the Yankees, since much of the rest of the sport is also at a standstill.
“There’s not much going on with anyone,’’ one agent said of talks with teams — including the Yankees — when it comes to mid-tier free agents.
So while the Yankees and other big spenders wait to set the market on the most high-profile free agents — including LeMahieu, J.T. Realmuto, Trevor Bauer and George Springer — available players with lower price tags are left in limbo.
“At this point, no one knows what’s going to be out there for the majority of free agents,’’ the agent said. “Those top guys will get their money, but we’ll have to find out what happens to everyone else.”
That could work to the Yankees’ advantage, as they are expected to stay under the $210 million luxury tax threshold in 2021 and figure to have roughly $30 million-$35 million to spend — including LeMahieu, or not.
Cashman has said he’d be interested in bringing back long-tenured Yankees Brett Gardner and Masahiro Tanaka, and both remain on the market with no clear market having developed for them.
Last offseason, the Yankees agreed to a one-year contract with a team option to bring back Gardner in mid-December, though the deal didn’t become official until Jan. 11.
If they get outbid for LeMahieu — still a possibility even though Cashman and manager Aaron Boone have repeatedly said he remains the organization’s top priority this offseason — they could re-sign Tanaka and add a shortstop, which would enable them to move Gleyber Torres back to second base.
The three shortstops who were around at the beginning of the offseason — Andrelton Simmons, Marcus Semien and former Yankee Didi Gregorius — remain available. And the Angels, another team who might have been on the hunt for a shortstop, traded for Baltimore’s Jose Iglesias.
“They’re doing what everyone is doing, and until it hurts them, you can’t really argue with it,’’ another agent said of the Yankees. “If they don’t keep LeMahieu, that could change, but other than a couple of exceptions, like with the Mets and [James] McCann, hardly anything has come off the board. So they haven’t gotten hurt.”
The Mets, with new billionaire owner Steve Cohen, signed McCann to the largest multiyear deal of this offseason, for four years and $40.6 million.
The ice will thaw at some point, but it may take until next month, though MLB Network’s Jon Heyman said the Phillies made an offer to Realmuto in an effort to retain the best catcher in the game following the hiring of new team president Dave Dombrowski.
In the meantime, Cashman and the Yankees still risk the potential loss of LeMahieu, with potential suitors like the Blue Jays, Mets and Dodgers possible landing spots.
“The atmosphere is good [with] the fact he wants to stay and we’d like to keep him,” Cashman said of LeMahieu earlier this month. “But that doesn’t guarantee anything because in free agency, anything can happen.’’
Except so far this offseason, almost nothing has happened.
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