The face of the New York Yankees. One of the faces of Major League Baseball. Aaron Judge is in a contract year and his name has never been more front and center.
Coming off back-to-back disappointing seasons, the Bombers are now confronted with what feels like a true World Series-or-bust 2022 campaign, especially since Judge rejected the organization’s final contract offer before Opening Day (seven-year, $213.5 million extension).
However, that hasn’t stopped Judge from alluding to a longer future with the Yankees, or his desire to bring a championship back to the Bronx. He’s handled this situation with grace and has already been tasked with responding to a couple more controversial issues this year (when Yankees fans threw trash at Cleveland Guardians outfielders and when Josh Donaldson called White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson “Jackie”).
He’s been a commensurate professional and continues to evoke that “Jeter-esque” persona where he seemingly always says the right thing despite a tough line of questioning or when having to address difficult topics in general.
Non-Yankees fans might not be accustomed to that, but now they have some Judge exposure after the superstar appeared on MLB Network for a recent interview with Harold Reynolds.
One of the main topics? His future in New York and the contract that’s hanging in the balance. But Judge doesn’t care about that. He has a job to do, and the ultimate goal is to win.
Yankees’ Aaron Judge handled MLB Network’s interview like a pro
From remembering draft night to detailing his rise to stardom, Judge is humble through and through. And when he expresses confidence, it hardly comes off as cocky.
Reynolds asked Judge “what’s the gamble?!” being taken when rejecting the $30.5 million AAV offer from the Yankees, and the slugger agreed because he trusts his abilities, but then quickly talked about how he takes pride in giving his all as well as playing for the city and his teammates.
And how about his take on batting average?! Look away, statheads! He talked about how, first and foremost, he values putting the ball in play — because “that’s what the game’s all about” — and then lets his size “provide the power.”
Judge’s confidence in himself has resulted in a scorching start to the 2022 season, which has his price increasing by the day. Will the Yankees pay it come November? Perhaps that depends on their finish.
Either way, Judge isn’t concerned. He’s living in the moment, playing multiple positions, ensuring he’s on the field each and every night, and increasing the team’s bond via his leadership in the clubhouse. This kind of initiative pays for itself, so if the Yankees are smart, they’ll hand over a blank check if Judge’s MVP-like performance reaches the finish line, especially if it aligns with an appearance in the Fall Classic.