1. Aaron Judge
Aaron Judge is untouchable not because he can’t or shouldn’t be touched, but because he won’t be touched.
Even though the Yankees are watching the Boston Red Sox grand experiment without Mookie Betts unfold, there is a less than zero percent chance they proactively hand over their greatest moneymaker and marketing tool in the midst of a depressing slog without marquee attractions.
Should they entertain a Judge trade? Again, I’ve heard the chatter. The Yankees print money hand over fist, and no large-scale contract extension should ever prevent them from signing stars to fill their gaps. They should be able to eat free agent mistakes. And yet … I’m being told the Giancarlo Stanton contract is hamstringing them? Even though they made Jacoby Ellsbury disappear? Even though the CBA could very well change dramatically this offseason?
There’s no way I trade Aaron Judge. It makes the team worse. But if the braintrust is going to pretend long-term deals complicate their future payrolls, then you at least have to consider the ramifications.
Beyond Judge, though … there’s no one else you can claim is immobile or essential. Fans have lost patience with Torres, Clint Frazier, and Miguel Andújar. The rotation is in shambles — Jordan Montgomery could be a wonderful No. 4 for this team for four years, but he could also net you a top-15 prospect if you’re going nowhere? Michael King? Deivi Garcia? Clarke Schmidt? Can’t commit to any of them. With an oversaturated high-profile shortstop market arriving this offseason, almost any infielder could be on the chopping block. The rest of the farm is thriving, but Dominguez is the only clear centerpiece — and those 40-man spots are awfully precious.
Stanton, Cole and DJ LeMahieu will be here long-term. Judge might be shopped if he played for any other franchise. But as long as they still sell the Judge’s Chambers and Foam Gavels, he’ll be here.
Whether or not he’ll be playing is another story.