Once Aaron Judge and the New York Yankees’ mission is complete in 2022, the slugger will put his “New York or Nowhere” sweatshirt to the test, entering the Negotiation Chamber with super villain Hal Steinbrenner.
When those negotiations begin, it seems exceedingly likely that Judge’s decision will come down to one of two options: remain with the Yankees, or join his hometown San Francisco Giants if they outbid the Bombers considerably.
The Mets have the money, and potentially the motivation, but they still seem like a clear third choice. The Red Sox? It’s very unclear why they’d throw $300 million at an objectively bad contract while they continue to not take care of their homegrown talent, but Boston fans will continue to wait for things to finalize before they give up hope.
To a layperson, this feels like a two-squad race. To MLB insiders? Yeah, it also feels like a two-squad race.
A group of 14 league insiders spoke to ESPN this week about Judge’s next steps, and they’re nearly split on whether he’ll eventually settle in New York or head to San Francisco. Unsurprisingly, those were the runaway top options.
Yankees’ Aaron Judge could return, could join Giants…is this news?
Nine of the insiders had the gall to predict Judge’s 2023 team, and three of them selected Farhan Zaidi’s Giants (with one of those people predicting the Dodgers could also step in for the block).
It does make all the sense in the world, if Hal Steinbrenner and Co. continue to dance around their magnificent right fielder’s true value. Why wouldn’t the new Home Run King, from the Bay Area, want to accept a boatload of money to fill Barry Bonds’ shoes? Add in the fact that the Giants ascended, without a superstar, to win 107 games just one year ago, and Judge wouldn’t be taking a step down whatsoever if they handed him the bag.
Then again … New York is New York. Four of ESPN’s insiders still predicted a Yankees return, with two more believing he’d cross over to Steve Cohen’s dark side, but stay in the Big Apple.
As much as Yankees fans would like to tout loyalty at a time like this, Judge’s chase will obviously come down to cold, hard cash, and whether his beloved Bombers opt to play at the top of the market. All the team can do now is put on a game face and try to craft a special October to make No. 99 leaving an impossibility — or the relative afterthought of a ticker tape parade.