1. Aaron Judge
Didn’t see this one coming, did you? Must’ve thought the spot was saved for Aroldis Chapman. We get it.
All jokes aside, Judge has earned AT LEAST an extra $40 million from the Yankees with his play so far in 2022. He’s the leading AL MVP candidate (don’t listen to any of the Jose Ramirez chatter at the moment), as he has the most runs scored (55) and home runs (25) in MLB, all the while playing Gold Glove-caliber defense in center field.
He’s the face of the Yankees and arguably of baseball, depending who you ask. Sorry, but there’s not much more of an explanation needed here. We’re trying our best.
The Yankees did make a fair offer of seven years and $213.5 million before Opening Day, which would’ve made Judge the second-highest paid outfielder in the game behind Mike Trout. Judge rejected it, thought he could make more, and has proven that before our very eyes. The investment here might be tough to swallow, but it’ll be harder to cope with Judge leaving in free agency and putting another team in the World Series discussion (or making a contender that much stronger).
“The Price Went Up,” as Yankees Twitter loves to say. And if they’re right about anything, it’s that. The cost here isn’t the issue, though. This is the New York Yankees we’re talking about — one of the most valuable sports franchises in the world. They can pay for three years of regression with the amount of money Judge rakes in with his overall recognition, merch sales, ad spots, you name it.
This is the most important Yankee to keep in pinstripes. After Judge, the rest of the necessary dominoes fall. But if the Yankees do anything before the year ends, they need to get Judge under contract or convince him a capable roster will continue to be around him by working out deals with a few of the other aforementioned guys on this list.