DJ LeMahieu could hardly have had a better first two seasons with the Yankees, but there is still one goal he hasn’t reached: winning a World Series.
And LeMahieu said that “unfinished business” is as much a reason as the six-year, $90 million contract he’s back in The Bronx.
“This is a group I want to be a part of,” LeMahieu said on a Zoom call Thursday. “This is an exciting group. We need to get over that hump. There’s no secret we need to get over that hump. There’s one goal with the Yankees and that’s to win a World Series. We haven’t been able to do it.”
Throughout the offseason, general manager Brian Cashman said re-signing LeMahieu was the team’s top priority and LeMahieu acknowledged Thursday that was what he wanted, as well, which is what made the months-long negotiation more difficult for him to deal with.
He called the process “frustrating.”
“For me, I don’t understand why it takes so long,” LeMahieu said of the process.. “I don’t know why we couldn’t get it done two weeks after the season. But I guess that’s the business side and that’s how it is right now… I thought the whole time we could get something done and it wasn’t happening, so I just didn’t know what the heck was going on.”
Until recently, there was little movement on the free-agent front as teams dealt with the economic fallout of COVID-19, as well as a desire — if unstated — to stay below the $210 million luxury tax threshold.
The Yankees put the rest of their offseason on hold until they came to terms with LeMahieu at a surprisingly low AAV of $15 million.
And before LeMahieu signed back with the Yankees, he was forced to explore other options.
“I definitely had to consider going other places,” LeMahieu said. “I had to put myself in other situations, even though it would have been a really tough page to turn. Thankfully, I didn’t have to.”
He’ll come back to an AL East that looks different than when the season ended, with Tampa Bay having traded Blake Snell and let Charlie Morton go as a free agent, while the Blue Jays have splurged on George Springer and Marcus Semien.
As for the Rays, LeMahieu said the loss in the ALDS to the eventual pennant-winners still stings.
“I think we ran into a really hot Tampa team,” LeMahieu said. “I thought we were better than they were. I think they just made a couple plays that we didn’t and that was the bottom line. Going forward, we’ve got to make those plays, whatever it is. I thought last year, they just had our number. It was disappointing and I really think we’re gonna get over the hump here.”