DJ LeMahieu never wanted to leave the Bronx. He said so near the end of last season. And he made it known to the team during the start of the offseason.
He was just frustrated it took this long to find common ground.
“It’s no secret that I wanted to be back with the Yankees. I wanted to be back in New York,” he told reporters via Zoom on Thursday following the Yankees’ announcement that his six-year, $90 million pact was official. “It was frustrating at times because it took so long, but I’m just so excited to be back. It’s what I wanted from the beginning. It’s what I wanted all along.
DJ LeMahieu opens his Zoom by reacting to the news of Masahiro Tanaka returning to Japan:
"As exciting as it is (to be back), I'm disappointed that I won't be able to play with him anymore." pic.twitter.com/HnycDltwaC
— Bryan Hoch (@BryanHoch) January 28, 2021
“I don’t understand why it takes so long. I don’t know why we couldn’t get it done two weeks after the season.”
LeMahieu did implore his representatives to look into other offers when the Yankees weren’t quick to give him a deal that he liked. Many, like the Los Angeles Dodgers and Toronto Blue Jays, were in the mix.
“I definitely had to consider going other places,” he explained. “I had to put myself in the other situations, even though it would’ve been a really tough page to turn. Thankfully, I didn’t have to and I’m back.”
LeMahieu’s allegiance is still with the “unbelievable group” the Yankees have had since he came to New York two seasons ago. Having that unfinished business of winning a World Series is a constant driving force for 2020’s AL batting champion.
And being such a big part of the team’s recent success made LeMahieu’s teammates wonder why he didn’t sign a new deal until now.
“I had guys reaching out all offseason [saying], ‘What’s the hold up? What’s going on?’” LeMahieu said. “I really appreciated that and it’s just the guys in this locker room, the clubhouse — that fire’s still burning until we win it [the World Series].”
Once LeMahieu signed, the Yanks got the ball rolling on other needs, particularly their pitching. Corey Kluber and Jameson Taillon have been added to the roster as well as reliever Darren O’Day. LeMahieu, though, is sad to see that Masahiro Tanaka and Adam Ottavino won’t be returning next season, as Tanaka is headed back to Japan while Ottavino was traded to the Boston Red Sox to shed his contract from the books.
It may personally pain him that those two won’t be a part of whatever the Yanks accomplish in 2021, but LeMahieu is still confident this team can fulfill their destiny of winning a ring.
“Yeah, there’s no doubt,” he said when asked if the Yankees can still win the World Series. “Like I said, we got to get over that hump and we’re ready. I’ve been saying it for two years, but it’s time. That’s just another reason I wanted to be back. We got some unfinished business.”
Kyle leads sports coverage and hosts the Concrete Jungle podcast. Have a lead or question? Send it to [email protected].