Harold Reynolds claims Yankees almost made wild Aaron Judge trade last winter

Adam Weinrib
ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA - AUGUST 31: Aaron Judge #99 of the New York Yankees at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on August 31, 2022 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA - AUGUST 31: Aaron Judge #99 of the New York Yankees at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on August 31, 2022 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /
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The New York Yankees have reaped all the benefits in the world from Contract Year Aaron Judge — except in the checkbook. Prior to the 2022 season, the Yankees claim to have offered Judge a seven-year, $213.5 million deal that was turned down. All he did in the aftermath was threaten the all-time AL home run record, bash his 60th round tripper of the season with 15 games remaining, and cover center field magnificently for long stretches when the team needed it most.

In essence, he’s raised his price tremendously — while helping the team win, like, a lot. Overall, with the opportunity to re-sign Judge (again, at an elevated rate) still ahead of them, the Yankees have to be pleased they kept him around.

But that … that was never really a question, right? The playoff-contending Bombers wouldn’t have entertained trading Judge away before his final season of arbitration … would they have?

According to MLB Network’s Harold Reynolds during a live look-in this week, that threat was very real. But we, uh … how can we put this nicely … don’t believe him?

Per Reynolds, a Judge-to-the-Angels deal was just about done prior to the season. Before the Cashman press conference. Before the Roger Maris chat. Before Opening Day’s walk-off against the Red Sox. Imagine that?! Judge could’ve been the second-place MVP candidate stuck on the 65-win team!

Harold Reynolds says Yankees nearly traded Aaron Judge to Angels last winter

In terms of whopper statements, “Aaron Judge was going to the Angels in spring training. That deal was basically done,” has to be way up there, above, “The chicken buckets at Yankee Stadium are a healthy and nutritious meal — and cheap, too!”

Remember that, this offseason, spring training was extra short due to the MLB Lockout. If Reynolds is to be believed, the Yankees pulled off a Judge trade to LA within just a couple of weeks before somebody nixed it. Were they that unwilling to have contract negotiations? They were really going to Mookie Betts it?!

And who could’ve possibly been in this trade besides Shohei Ohtani? Please don’t claim the Yankees were going to pu pu platter it with Jo Adell and Reid Detmers. There’s no one whose value even approaches Judge’s besides the No. 1 player in the world.

This rumor is impossible to verify and impossible to entertain. It just cannot be true. If so, though … it’s the team’s biggest disaster dodged since the 2014 three-man Judge/Gary Sánchez/Luis Severino weave almost went to Atlanta in exchange for a bunch of, uh … stuff.

This isn’t the first time someone’s mentioned a “Judge-to-the-Angels” trade; ESPN’s Buster Olney brought up the “lightest of flirtations” back in the 2020-21 offseason. Is it possible Reynolds just has his wires crossed here, and was thinking of the outlining the two parties did a year before his supposed “done deal”?

Regardless, the Angels have the chance to sign Judge for money alone this offseason, if they’re still interested. We’d rather they didn’t, though.

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