Well … it’s certainly worth wondering why Aaron Judge has seemingly altered his stance on contract extension talks with the New York Yankees after setting a hard Opening Day deadline and then claiming he will talk to all 30 teams once free agency arrives in November!
During ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball broadcast, a previously recorded clip of Judge was played where he talked about the contract situation with the team. The slugger said, “If we get it figured out before the year ends, that’d be great.”
So, what was once, “We’re not negotiating after Opening Day” is now “OK, so, maybe we can get something done”?
Is this a coincidence, since his words currently align with his worst stretch of offense all season? Or was Judge bluffing all along? He’s made it clear he wants to remain a Yankee, so it’s not like he was keen on bolting at the first sight of more dollars.
But you really gotta wonder. Over the last month of play, Judge’s average has dropped from .318 to .283. His OPS has sputtered from 1.077 to .971. He once had an OPS+ figure near 200 … and now it’s 175.
Don’t get us wrong! He’s still putting up MVP numbers (he leads the league in runs scored, homers and total bases) … but this mini version of normalization could have him thinking, “Ah, OK, maybe it’s time to cash out.”
Yankees’ Aaron Judge leaves door open for in-season contract talks
Then again, Aaron Judge is Aaron Judge. His value goes beyond his production on the field. He’s a larger-than-life personality that sells tickets and merch, generates viewership, and has advertisements write themselves.
As long as he’s healthy and producing at an MVP-like clip, the price really won’t change that drastically. His availability is what matters most because the Yankees (and rest of the league) very well know what he’s capable of when he’s on the field consistently.
So, though the timing of this feels a bit bizarre, everything else aligns: Judge wants to be a Yankee, he and the team would rather not have this be a distraction, and he’s definitely getting more than what the Yankees offered right before Opening Day.
Judge did just lead all vote-getters for the All-Star Game, where he’ll start in right field for the American League next week. He’s sixth among all position players in MLB with a 3.8 WAR (which was in the 4s before his recent slide).
It seems all that’s left for Judge is to capture a World Series … and up that performance at Fenway Park.