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New York Yankees first baseman DJ LeMahieu is a free agent. Although there’s mutual interest in the Yankees keeping the three-time All-Star, no deal has emerged.

 

NEW YORK — Yankees Manager Aaron Boone is treating DJ LeMahieu like he’s any other member of the team this offseason.

And he’s hopeful that when New York gathers for spring training, the reigning big league batting champion will be there.

A month and a half into baseball’s offseason, LeMahieu remains a free agent. Although there’s mutual interest in keeping the three-time All-Star in pinstripes, no deal has emerged.

Boone routinely participates in sales pitches for free agents – including during last year’s talks with ace Gerrit Cole – but he said Tuesday he’s giving LeMahieu space to make his own decision.

“This time of year, I text with guys every few weeks, check in with guys, and I’ve treated DJ in that same manner,” Boone said. “He knows I’m here if he needs to ask me anything.”

The 32-year-old LeMahieu won his second batting crown last season by hitting .364, adding 10 home runs and 27 RBI during the pandemic-shortened 60-game season. His .421 on-base percentage and 1.011 OPS led the American League, and the three-time Gold Glove Award winner finished third in AL MVP voting.

LeMahieu likes playing in New York, and the Yankees don’t have a sufficient replacement in-house. Rarely are the deep-pocketed Bronx Bombers outspent on a priority piece like that.

Then again, Yankees managing partner Hal Steinbrenner has claimed New York lost more money in 2020 than any other major league franchise, spurring anxiety among fans that talks with LeMahieu are dragging because a deal may not be reached.

Boone said he isn’t surprised or troubled by the timeframe on those talks.

“DJ’s put himself in a really strong position, even coming off the year that was 2020 and all the uncertainty,” Boone said. “The bottom line is he’s earned the right to, and I’m sure understandably has a lot of interest from a lot of different teams. I respect and understand that process.

“It’ll happen in its own time,” he added. “Hopefully that ends up with him being a Yankee.”

RANGERS: The Texas Rangers signed free-agent outfielder David Dahl to a $2.7 million, one-year contract after Colorado didn’t offer him a contract coming off right shoulder surgery.

TWINS: Manager Rocco Baldelli was discussing the state of his roster in baseball’s so-far quiet offseason, making no secret of the team’s desire to re-sign designated hitter Nelson Cruz.

Baldelli pushed his interest in the 40-year-old free agent a step further, taking a few seconds out of his video conference call on Tuesday with reporters to make a pretend pitch to the six-time All-Star.

“Nelson, if you’re watching, which I know you’re not, we’d love to see you in spring training, and I’ll talk to you soon,” Baldelli said, smiling at the camera on his computer.

Cruz has batted .308 with 57 home runs, 141 RBI and a 1.020 OPS in 173 games with the Twins, their best hitter over the two seasons Baldelli has managed the team and a significant reason why they’ve won the AL Central both years.

If Major League Baseball adopts the universal DH, the market for Cruz would significantly expand.

TRADE: The Seattle Mariners bolstered their bullpen by acquiring right-handed reliever Rafael Montero from the Texas Rangers.

The 30-year-old Montero was the Rangers’ closer for most of last season after Jose Leclerc was sidelined for the season due to a right shoulder injury after just two appearances. Montero appeared in 17 games and was 8 for 8 in save situations. Montero was 0-1 with a 4.08 ERA.

Seattle sent 17-year-old right-handed pitching prospect Jose Corniell and a player to be named to the Rangers for Montero.

ROYALS: Free-agent reliever Greg Holland stayed with Kansas City, signing a one-year contact for $2.75 million.

The 35-year-old Holland was 3-0 with six saves and a 1.91 ERA this season for Kansas City. He made 28 appearances, pitching 28 1/3 innings.

METS: Free-agent catcher James McCann signed a $40.6 million, four-year contract with the New York Mets, joining a team now ready to spend big to build a winner.

The 30-year-old McCann was an All-Star with the White Sox in 2019 and this season set career highs in batting average (.289), on-base percentage (.360) and slugging percentage (.536).

McCann gets a $600,000 signing bonus payable on Jan. 15, salaries of $8 million in each of the first two seasons and $12 million in each of the final two years.

Steve Cohen bought the Mets last month for $2.42 billion last month. McCann’s signing was announced a day after Jared Porter was officially introduced as the Mets’ new general manager.

Cohen has said he would consider it disappointing if the Mets don’t win the World Series in the next three to five years.

PIRATES: Jameson Taillon is on schedule to return in 2021 after missing most of 2019 and all of 2020 while recovering from a second Tommy John surgery on his right elbow.

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