The Yankees need to break all the rules by giving their All-Star right fielder a big fat bonus as a send-off to Miami, where he’ll provide the team with endless publicity when he wins the Home Run Derby. Write him a check, Hal.
The Yankees Aaron Judge will earn nothing in terms of monetary compensation when he heads off to Miami for three days as an overwhelming choice to represent the American League as their right fielder in the annual All-Star Game.
There’s a good chance that Judge will also be representing the Yankees in the Home Run Derby, and an even better chance that if he does, he’ll win it. And if that doesn’t look like hard work, try swinging a bat fifty times in the space of a couple of minutes with all the strength you have each time.
Almost by himself, Aaron Judge has brought the fun of baseball back to the city of New York. He’s now the undeclared face of the team, replacing the iconic Derek Jeter. He has his reserved seating section in the bleachers. And he has eighteen home runs to lead the American League and 40 runs batted in to boot.
Pay the piper
On March 1 of this year, Aaron Judge signed a one-year contract worth $544,500 to play for the New York Yankees, which is a few thousand dollars more than the major league minimum. That was a fair contract, especially given the fact that Judge hadn’t even won the right-field job at the time.
Now, a contract is a contract and both sides are expected, and even required, to live up to its terms. And the Yankees don’t have to look too far to find the opposite end of what we’re talking about here in their “$3.5 Million Man”, Chris Carter.
But that’s not the point, which is that Judge is making the Yankees oddles of money this season by putting, as Boss George used to say, asses in the seats at Yankee Stadium. And a small portion of that money needs to be shared with Judge.
And don’t look back
Precedent setting? You betcha. And the Yankees would need to be careful in labeling any effort to recognize Judge for his accomplishments not as a contract extension or alteration, but simply as a bonus.
Aaron Judge, barring a trade, will be with the Yankees until 2023 when he will become an unrestricted free agent. Beginning in 2020, he will be arbitration-eligible for the next three years. He will make plenty of money during that time and beyond. And if he keeps at or near his current production levels, the Yankees will gladly pay him for his services.
But as a gesture of gratitude for what he is doing for the team (now), the Yankees can surely find another half a million dollars to put in Judge’s bank account before he heads off to Miami and all of the hoopla that will be surrounding him when he is there.
Aaron Judge is hitting baseballs harder than anyone has ever hit them before. The other night in Toronto, he literally almost knocked their center fielder down with a ball he hit that was “caught”. He’s someone and something special for a game that Bryce Harper is correct in saying has become “tired”.
And for that, the Yankees need to throw the book away by giving him the recognition he deserves.