If the New York Yankees want to extend Aaron Judge, and Aaron Judge wants to be a Yankee for life, and the Yankees’ entire offseason hinges on locking up Aaron Judge before they can proceed with other moves … then what on earth is taking so long here?
We understand the Bombers wanted to see a fully-healthy Judge season before agreeing to commit big money to a player with a serious injury history who’ll be entering his 30s. Like the gentleman he is, Judge obliged in 2021, ripping 39 homers with a 149 OPS+ (nearly the same mark he posts every year) in 148 games played, missing time due to a positive COVID test but very little else.
Is there a chance that a long-ish-term Judge pact could backfire? Sure. There’s a chance that anything could, but the Yankees should be willing to observe the pitfalls of retaining the face of their franchise here. They are a billionaire’s paradise. They should remain in lockstep with Judge until he’s physically unable to perform, no matter the cost. They don’t need to opt into poverty and deck-chair shuffling, like the post-Mookie Betts Red Sox.
According to everything we’re seeing from insiders, the cost won’t even be that high, and the commitment won’t even be that long. So … again … why wait?
Recently, the numbers we’ve seen thrown around include a completely reasonable offer from Joel Sherman, and a slightly pricier option from the New York Post’s Ken Davidoff which still feels attainable for both sides.
In other words, if Judge would accept these proposals, the Yanks should be head over heels.
The Yankees should move forward on this projected Aaron Judge extension.
Davidoff’s numbers? Six years, $227 million, a few vesting options and an opt-out after 2024.
That opt-out terrifies me (can’t we just do 2025?), but if both parties’ hearts are in the right place, Judge will land softly here regardless. Don’t want the messiness of the Red Sox chasing Trevor Story as Xander Bogaerts mulls his opt-out decision to eventually land on our doorstep, though.
The bottom line is the Yanks and Judge should operate with the same air of inevitability as the mid-career Derek Jeter/Brian Cashman mind-melds. No matter how frosty things got, Prime Jeter was always poised to return to the Bronx and maintain the status quo at a number that wasn’t preventative for other endeavors.
Now, late in the career, the conversation got heated … yet it also ended up in the same place.
Judge is entering his theoretical walk year extra motivated, and seems prepared to build on the already-special fireworks show he brought fans in 2021, ready to match the heights of his rookie year.
And who are a bunch of American League pitchers to tell him no?
If you ask us, there’s no Judge number that should block a Carlos Correa/Freddie Freeman deal, even if inking the once-and-future captain is priority No. 1. But the way the Yankees operate, clearly Judge’s future needs to be secured first before they can move onto other positions.
How do the theorized numbers above not get it done?