3 burning questions Yankees must answer about future in 2022

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Aaron Judge #99 of the New York Yankees (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images) /

1. Is Aaron Judge Their Future/a Yankee for Life?

Aaron Judge’s appearance on R2C2 this week should’ve opened a lot of eyes in Yankee Land, in case they weren’t already open.

Judge dished on his extension talks, preferring to get something done before Spring Training (which, at its current pace, will take place in 2050), but admitted that if this is the end of his road, he’s made some great memories in pinstripes.

How can this possibly be the end of his road, if the Bombers have an ounce of self respect left?

Editorializing, sure, but that’s beside the point. If they plan to let Judge walk, they had better have a phenomenal alternative use for the money saved in their decision-making pipeline. They must be absolutely certain they’ve devised a way to manufacture additional wins by shedding one of the game’s best players. Perhaps they’re skittish about whether or not they can stomach a long-term deal for a player with Judge’s unique body type. If so, we’re open to the conversation! We guess! Perhaps they have data we don’t.

But David Cone’s podcast appearance earlier this offseason got to the heart of things. Amid all this talk about a free-agent frenzy and a “2009-type offseason” for the Yankees prior to the lockout, Cone made it clear the team should be answering the Judge question laid before them first. How would Judge feel walking onto the field, prepared to lead new high-priced talent that got taken care of before he did? Why would high-priced talent even want to lock in with the Yankees without knowing whether or not Judge was on board for the long-term?

Judge’s future is both the quickest question to answer that lies ahead of the Yankees and the one they must prioritize before they can build a championship roster. It’s a simple yes or no: did the Mookie Betts trade inspire you to think differently, or be the same as your rivals?