Theo Epstein’s worst Cubs trade could have been DJ LeMahieu’s best – NBC Chicago


Cubs? Rockies? Bad Trade Biggest Winner DJ LeMahieu originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

NEW YORK — About a month ago, Yankees star DJ LeMahieu went to a New York Rangers playoff game in the city with a few teammates and apparently thought he would go unnoticed in the crowd leaving the game. once it was time to separate from the teammates and go home.

“I expected to get out of there and go home,” said LeMahieu, who was taken aback by the quick recognition and the countless requests for selfies and handshakes, which went around a viral fan video.

“It shows you how passionate the Yankees fan base is,” LeMahieu said.

It could also show how conditioned LeMahieu is to be overlooked despite a decorated career – first by Cubs officials who fired the talented rookie after taking over baseball operations in the fall of 2011, throwing him into the trade by Ian Stewart with Colorado and then by critics during his free agency who viewed his hitting prowess as a product of Coors Field.

But that may just be a small part of why he’s been as good as he has been for the Rockies and Yankees a decade after what could be the Theo Epstein regime’s worst trade. -Jed Hoyer Cubs.

“I always play with a chip on my shoulder; no matter what happens, I always find that chip,” LeMahieu said. “I’m happy where I am.”

The same goes for the Yankees, who after a two-year round with the three-time Golden Glove winner and all-court-hitting LeMahieu re-signed him to a six-year, $90 million deal. years, at 32, before last season. .

These days, he’s leading the majors’ best team as the Cubs make a rare stop at Yankee Stadium this weekend and face their 2009 second-round pick for the first time since he doubled and scored in the Rockies’ 2-1, 13-inning wildcard win that bounced the Cubs off the field in the 2018 playoffs.

“DJ has been awesome for us,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “He’s already been in the MVP conversation a couple of times for us. His versatility is huge for us — his ability to play second, third, first. And he’s just a really special hitter.

Don’t think the Cubs missed that — though they may have overlooked him early in his career. Especially when he became the first player to win batting titles in every league.

“It’s funny,” LeMahieu said. “[Epstein] texted me a few years ago, and it was just funny to hear it. He was, ‘Hey, I messed up that one, but good luck to you.’

“I’ve only heard good things about him. I really respect him reaching out like that. It was pretty cool.

LeMahieu declined to comment on whether he made the Ian Stewart swap the worst of Epstein’s career: ‘I didn’t follow all his moves.’

But all these years later, he might have the best move for him, especially from the perspective he has now, because the kind of low-strikeout, high-contact, can’t-move-it hitter that every team wants. these days, the kind of hitter who has performed well against top pitchers on the biggest stages and may have his best chance yet in a ring this year.

“As my career has unfolded, I’m so grateful to have been able to play with the Rockies and to have been able to play with Nolan. [Arenado] and [Trevor] History and [Troy Tulowitzki] and a few other great players,” he said. “I just feel like I’ve really grown as a player, and I’ve really improved over those years.”

As for the Cubs, well, they’re doing it again, a decade after messing with LeMahieu in that first tanking process.

LeMahieu didn’t have enough time with the Cubs after breaking into the majors in 2011 to become an authority on the franchise, let alone the practices of the Epstein-Hoyer regime.

But he knows what makes his current big-money team in New York so appealing and inspires so much loyalty in so many players and fans (like those at the hockey game).

“There’s a different expectation here than almost anywhere else,” he said. “It’s the World Series or the bust. We’re not just trying to make the playoffs. We try to go all the way. It’s a different mindset than a lot of places.

Maybe even a vaguely familiar old place or two.

“I’m still jealous that I wasn’t there for the 2016 squad because it would have been a lot of fun,” LeMahieu said. “But everything happens for a reason.”

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Theo Epstein's worst Cubs trade could have been DJ LeMahieu's best - NBC Chicago

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