When the New York Yankees revealed recently that there were no talks with superstar slugger Aaron Judge regarding a contract extension, fans weren’t surprised, but it didn’t necessarily make them feel good.
Everyone’s kind of aware that this is the case because, well, Judge, despite his status as one of the best in the game, can’t stay healthy. With two more years of arbitration remaining, you’d have to assume the Yankees want to see longevity and production in 2021 and 2022. Not one or the other. Both. This will be a hefty investment.
And it seems that sentiment is the same among some team insiders, who very much feel it’s going to hinge on what happens over the next couple of seasons.
Here’s the latest from MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch:
"“Pardon the expression, but I feel that the jury is still out on a Judge extension, and the team seems to be playing a wait-and-see game. Judge is earning $10.175 million this year, and he could get a nice raise next season, his final year of arbitration before potentially becoming a free agent in 2023. I imagine that they will find common ground, but Judge’s health over the next two years — as well as the unsettled nature of baseball’s Collective Bargaining Agreement — could play significant roles in determining how much the Yankees are willing to commit.”"
There’s no doubt that the Yankees have the upper hand in regard to bringing Judge back — he’s still more likely to remain in New York than go anywhere else — but we also know they’re tied up with two big contracts in Gerrit Cole and Giancarlo Stanton.
Based on the self-imposed financial restraint we’ve seen this offseason (even though the recent factors are much different), you can almost feel like they’re not putting another $200 million-plus contract on the books unless they know it’s a sure thing. And we’ve seen them get creative in order to cut expenditures. We know they will take things under their control if they have to.
Should fans be concerned about the relationship between the team and player? No. It’s clear they know where they both stand at this point. But it’s a tad unsettling to know that there’s a real possibility Judge will hit free agency if the Yankees don’t like what they see between now and the end of the 2022 season.
This is supposed to be the next Yankee captain. Can we please just have a painless two years on the injury front?