Aaron Judge has said he wants to be a New York Yankee for life, numerous times. Heading into a contract year, especially after doling out extensions to guys like Aaron Hicks and Luis Severino, you’d think this would’ve been a priority.
And maybe it is! But based on what the front office has said, it really doesn’t seem like it’s been. Despite Judge being vocal about a long-term commitment after a fourth-place finish in the AL MVP voting, general manager Brian Cashman told the media this week that the team has yet to engage with Judge on contract extension talks.
But it gets worse. The whole New York City private sector vaccine mandate could (but probably won’t) derail Judge’s 2022. On his radio show on Tuesday, Michael Kay said that if the mandate stands, then anyone who isn’t vaccinated on the Yankees should be traded. Yikes.
And he’s not wrong. If Judge can only play 72 games next season, then what’s the use? Again, this likely won’t happen because it’s an objectively absurd mandate that allows unvaccinated fans to attend games and unvaccinated visiting players to partake in the festivities. Hard to believe it’ll stand as is.
Another issue with this, though? Judge has made it known he’s not open to negotiating an extension during the season, as he wants his main focus to be on baseball.
Though Cashman said he’d be happy to engage with Judge after the season, is it really smart to let it get to that point? The Yankees, as evidenced by their moves in free agency for the better part of a decade now, don’t exactly overwhelm players anymore with offers they can’t refuse.
The Yankees might be in a bad situation with Aaron Judge’s contract
Just look at all of the star free agents the Yankees have failed to land (or straight up opted not to go after) in recent years: Max Scherzer, Manny Machado and Bryce Harper were from years prior and this offseason alone they whiffed on Carlos Correa (understandable), Corey Seager and Freddie Freeman (of course, among others).
How is Judge vastly different from any of those stars? In fact, it might be a worse situation because he’ll be entering his age-31 season in 2023 and doesn’t have an MVP or World Series to his name like most of those other names. What makes us think the Yankees will present him the best offer when so many other teams have shown New York no longer possesses the financial might and allure it once did?
There’s absolutely no reason to panic at this moment, but it’s reasonable to consider all of these factors, especially as the Yankees just blew past the luxury tax threshold by importing Josh Donaldson’s contract ($50 million total the next two years) and signed Anthony Rizzo to a two-year, $32 million contract.
And there are still more needs to fill both in the short- and long-term. But there’s still no definitive answer on the team’s undisputed best player after this coming season.