There is optimism around the Yankees that DJ LeMahieu won’t need surgery to repair a broken foot that plagued him in the second half of the season and sidelined the infielder for the playoffs.
GM Brian Cashman and manager Aaron Boone said at the winter meetings this week that LeMahieu has continued to improve and is practicing baseball in Tampa, and a source said he does not need the procedure at this time.
LeMahieu was scheduled to see a podiatrist last week for a broken sesamoid bone in his right big toe.
He and the Yankees tried to rest him during the offseason, but the problem persisted after becoming a problem in mid-July.
An injured LeMahieu sat out most of September in hopes of returning to the postseason, but a brief return to action late in the regular season at Texas convinced the Yankees otherwise.
Surgery with this injury has been described as complicated, with a potentially long recovery period that could keep LeMaheu in the IL until the season.
The Yankees already face uncertainty in their infield.
Anthony Rizzo is re-signed and will be at first base, but the Yankees have already considered moving Gleyber Torres after last season’s trade deadline, and the organizational hierarchy has given Oswald Peraza the starting spot and possibly openly talked about giving him a chance to get a top spot. Prospective Anthony Volpe has a chance to win the job as well.
Josh Donaldson, who is due at $27 million, will be the third baseman if the Yankees can’t find a player for the final year of his contract, which would cost the Yankees at least one prospect.
If LeMahieu is able to play on Opening Day, he could start first, second or third.
But he’s dealt with injuries the past two seasons, with a core muscle injury affecting LeMahieu in 2021 and foot problems last season.
They hope he stays healthy because LeMahieu also gives the Yankees another contact shot, something they lacked after LeMahieu, Andrew Benintendi and Matt Carpenter went down with injuries.
Benintendi and Carpenter are free agents. The Yankees are very interested in bringing Benintendi back to left field, but they have plenty of competition.
Although they would like to bring Carpenter back, both sides know there is no room for him on the roster with Giancarlo Stanton at DH and Rizzo.