There’s no doubt about where Yankees star Aaron Judge wants to spend the next phase of his career. There’s also no doubt about how much he wants to get paid to do it.
Judge values himself tremendously (and accurately), with an estimate that’s only increased based on his performance during the first 67 games of the 2022 season for the best team in baseball.
That rising level of stardom isn’t supposed to impact discussions with the Yankees surrounding his 2022 salary, which will likely be determined by an “impartial” group of arbitrators with their eyes on his 2021 production.
Ahead of an increasingly likely clash between Judge’s party and Yankees brass in the boardroom, though, the right fielder drew a pretty clear line in the sand after Monday’s bounce back win at Tropicana Field. Sorry … did we say “right fielder”?
When asked about Gerrit Cole’s spectacular one-hit start that nearly made history, Judge gushed about his teammate’s chances at a no-hitter.
He made clear that, whenever that day comes, he wants to be backing him up — and he wants to do it in center field. In the span of one sentence, Judge once again reiterated that he’d prefer to be a Yankee long-term, but he also recognizes how often he’s playing center these days, and likely believes that should be factored into any upcoming deal, long- or short-term.
In other words, he’s more versatile than he even was in April. Pay up.
Yankees’ Aaron Judge wants to stay, be paid like a center fielder
So much to break down in so few words:
- “Hope,” not “Will Be”
- “Playing Center”…would it shock you to learn that Judge has been a primary center fielder in 2022? 31 starts in center, 25 in right
- High praise for Cole, whose AAV he asked for this offseason. Wonder if that demand still stands?
We all hope Judge will be taken care of at year’s end, but the fact remains that the figures tossed out in support of his case early in the season did not take into account a position switch to a more valuable role. If No. 99 can handle a center fielder’s workload without losing a step or two at the plate, his range (and arm) become all the more valuable.
His 25 homers in mid-June also help out in that regard.
Judge is nothing if not intentional, so you’d have to think referring to himself as a center fielder ahead of an unnecessary battle with the Yankees front office was meant to pour water on a recently-planted seed.
For some reason, the Yankees seem keen on muddying the water with their best player over $4 million.
Maybe, for the purposes of an eventual long-term pact, it’s in everyone’s best interest to just meet in the middle here — or, rather, the center.