DJ LeMahieu did not accept the Yankees' qualifying offer and will test the open market as a free agent
LeMahieu had until Wednesday at 5 p.m. ET to decide whether to accept the one-year, $18.9 million offer for 2021. He was one of six free agents to receive a qualifying offer this offseason, along with Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto, Astros outfielder George Springer, Reds right-hander Trevor Bauer, Mets right-hander Marcus Stroman and Giants right-hander Kevin Gausman.
Only Stroman and Gausman accepted the offers.
The 32-year-old LeMahieu is an American League MVP finalist this season along with José Abreu (White Sox) and José Ramírez (Indians). LeMahieu won the MLB batting crown in 2020 by hitting .364, and he added 10 home runs and 27 RBIs while also leading the AL with a .421 on-base percentage and 1.011 OPS.
"He's been a pleasure to manage, to watch him go out and prepare the way he does," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said recently. "He's a special player, a special person. Of course, we'd love to have him back. But you never know where this offseason is going to go. All I know is, we've been fortunate to have a great player and a great person at the top of our lineup the last couple years."
The versatile infielder is one of the top free agents available after playing at an MVP-caliber level in both of his seasons in New York. LeMahieu was picked as the best free agent on the market by one MLB executive in an MLB.com poll last week, and he also comes out as the No. 1 free agent based on MLB data architect Tom Tango's WAR-based projection system.
LeMahieu said in September that there had been no progress on a potential contract extension, adding that he and the Yankees were tabling discussions until after the season.
"I want to stay here. I’ve said that a few times," LeMahieu said. "You never know how it goes. I thought I was going to stay in Colorado and I didn’t. Obviously, I’m hoping to be back here. You just never know how it goes."