The only such instance that should make New York Yankees fans feel comfortable about an Aaron Judge return following the 2022 season is the larger-than-life figure himself officially signing a contract. Otherwise, anything else is a wild guess as to what might happen.
We’ve already said it earlier this year and we’ll say it again: Judge leaving the Bombers in the offseason feels as real as ever.
Why? Well, do us a favor and tell us why Judge should stay? The team, despite what seemed to be a fair offer at the time, ended up disrespecting him in contract negotiations this offseason despite him repeatedly saying he wanted to be a Yankee for life, while the front office has proven it can in no way build a contender around him in any way (from Aaron Boone to the last guy on the bench).
The Yankees, who were once upon a time the best team in MLB a few months ago, are now the worst team in MLB at this present moment, after going 8-19 in August and an unbelievably bad 18-30 since starting 61-23. Where would this team be if they didn’t have a shockingly good first half? Out of the playoff picture?
So we will ask again: what reason does Judge have to stay in New York outside of the Yankees (potentially) being able to give him the most money? And what’s even made fans feel like the organization can actually do that with its countless cost-cutting measures over these last few years despite being the richest franchise in the sport?
ESPN insider Jeff Passan is an incredibly reliable voice and source, but this latest take on Judge shouldn’t sell Yankees fans on anything.
Jeff Passan thinks Aaron Judge will stay with the Yankees, but are we sure?
The Yankees’ awful performance since the beginning of July has somehow taken shine off of Judge’s once-in-a-lifetime home run chase. Do fans even really care about that anymore if this team is going to blow a 15.5-game lead in the division dating back to Aug. 1? Breaking Roger Maris’ home run record would hardly even be a headline if the Yankees were to continue on this pathway toward collapse.
How about the Yankees mishandling injuries? Anthony Rizzo has become the latest victim of that. DJ LeMahieu continues to play injured and affect the team’s overall output. Giancarlo Stanton may have returned from the IL prematurely, and he’s been as bad as ever. Instead of putting Rizzo/DJ on the IL and calling up younger players to fill the gaps, the Yankees have chosen to watch their output spiral and the injury situations worsen. But don’t worry, they’ve sold us on “preparing for October” for seven weeks now!
And finally, the lack of a pulse on the locker room! Regardless of how productive the Yankees’ trade deadline moves once seemed, general manager Brian Cashman, who’s largely been a pedestrian executive for the last 20 years and probably would’ve lost his job in many other places, traded away Jordan Montgomery, thinned a pitching staff that was already teetering on peril in terms of depth, and seemingly upset a locker room that had a close bond with the homegrown left-hander. Additionally, the Yankees offense, which was floundering before the All-Star break, was hardly addressed. Andrew Benintendi can’t be considered an impact addition. He’s a contact bat that hasn’t even lived up to the billing since arriving. Not to mention, the team continues to waste roster spots on Aaron Hicks, Marwin Gonzalez, Tim Locastro, and more.
There’s no true desire to get better. There’s only a desire to manage the finances carefully enough to eventually absorb a large contract for Judge that they never planned on paying for. There’s only a desire to see every one of the front office’s plans through or until they’ve officially reached the point of no return and have tortured fans for years. Such an approach will only have the Yankees treading water, falling short each and every year, and leaving them more and more susceptible to getting embarrassed by their rivals. Laugh at the Red Sox all you want, but they can bottom out in this manner if they have the guts to either go for it all or dig deep the minute the calendar flips to October.
The 2017 season remains the pinnacle for the modern iteration of the Yankees with Judge being featured in the lineup. As an impending free agent, on what planet would a “winner” who was lowballed by his current employer view this as his best option when probably five other teams in a better position to pay him/win are out there and waiting?