Following Judge’s spectacular 4-for-5 effort with two homers, two runs scored and three RBI in the team’s 5-4 win on Tuesday night, the slugger upped his season totals to .315/.384/.692 with an MLB-leading 14 home runs and 90 total bases, 30 runs scored and 30 RBI through 34 games.
Head on over to his Baseball Savant page and you’ll only see one blemish: strikeout percentage and whiff percentage. He’s got dark red (meaning very, very good) for everything else notable: average exit velocity, max exit velocity, hard hit percetange, xwOBA, xBA, xSLG, barrel percentage and chase rate.
Some bet he placed on himself, huh? Before officially rejecting a seven-year extension worth $213.5 million, Judge made it clear he wouldn’t negotiate beyond Opening Day. He turned down $30.5 million per year at the buzzer and thought he could do way better.
Well, the price is currently skyrocketing. But there is a shred of good news — or at least a potential sign of good things to come.
According to Brendan Kuty of NJ.com, the Yankees are still willing to continue contract talks with Judge, indicating that price isn’t factoring as heavily into the equation some previously believed it might.
The Yankees are still willing to negotiate with Aaron Judge
This is the equivalent of buying stocks when the market is at an all-time high, which tells us the Yankees are willing to pay up and were likely seeing if they could get Judge to sign for less given his track record up until the start of the 2022 season.
It’s not a stretch to say the Yankees’ final offer before Opening Day was fair, either. Judge would’ve been the second-highest paid outfielder behind Mike Trout and would’ve gotten the necessary long-term security most players in their 30s are seeking. The Yankees made their offer with clear reservations in mind, however, such as Judge’s injury history and the fact he’ll be in his age-31 season in 2023.
There was another issue with the Yankees’ offer, though. Apparently, that extension included a $17 million salary for the 2022 season, which was $4 million off from what Judge filed for in arbitration. So not only did the Yankees not come close to Judge’s reported $36 million per season request for nine or 10 years — which Kuty reiterated in his article — but they tried to sneakily avoid this year’s arbitration battle. That wasn’t going to fly then, and you can bet it’s not going to fly now.
In the end, the Yankees know Judge’s value to the franchise, and the fact that they’re paying Gerrit Cole and Giancarlo Stanton simply cannot compromise that. Judge is the face of the franchise and arguably the face of baseball when he’s fully healthy and mashing, meaning more money for the Yankees every moment he’s on the field.
The team is undoubtedly reaping the benefits of Judge’s torrid stretch at the moment. Now that they’ve remember what that tastes like, it might make them inclined to give the slugger a blank check before this season even comes to a close.