The 2022 Yankees’ season is so over that no amount of “motivational” videos of the 2004 Red Sox kicking their asses will save it.
Now, all that’s left is for someone to pick up the pieces and try to fill myriad holes in the interest of competing with the Houston Astros, a team that’s been standing in the Regular Season Champion Bombers’ way since 2015. Will that “someone” be Brian Cashman? In all likelihood, yes, and he’ll be dealing with a whopper of a decision from the jump off.
Stop us if you’ve heard this one, but Yankees superstar slugger Aaron Judge is a free agent after the two sides were unable to agree on a contract extension — or really come close — prior to the 2022 season. Cashman revealed his facts and figures just before Opening Day, someone close to Judge’s camp hinted at their numbers … it was a whole ordeal, and it didn’t make anybody feel better about future conversations between the two parties.
All year long, Judge has been left to pontificate about his Yankees tenure, speaking about what an honor it’s been to wear the pinstripes, alongside some traditional vagueness about his future.
After losing to the Astros, though, the right fielder might’ve reinforced his supposed desire to be here. Of course, there are two camps involved in that decision.
Judge spoke honestly after losing the ALCS in four, admitting that dropping another battle to the rival Astros will only “make it a lot sweeter” when “we finally get there and secure this thing”. Will you be here for the “we,” though?
Is Aaron Judge returning to the Yankees in free agency in 2023?
Judge’s 2022 regular season was obviously something to behold; he drilled an AL record 62 home runs, posting 10.6 bWAR and a 211 OPS+ in a depressed offensive environment. The campaign was a masterpiece, and was historic enough to make him the MVP frontrunner over a guy who can hit and pitch like an ace.
When it came time for the postseason, though, Judge disappeared, aside from two home runs against the Guardians. Blame the wind in Houston all you want, but the team’s centerpiece slugger cannot bat .063 against the Astros in a four-game set with only a lone single to his name. Who would’ve thought that the ALDS where he went 0-8 with 7 strikeouts in Games 1 and 2 wouldn’t even be his most embarrassing series in a single postseason?
The October struggles could eventually make a Yankees title extra sweet, but Judge’s performance very much contributed to said struggles.
The right fielder’s other answers late Sunday night fell in line with what he’s been saying all year. He’s made no secret of his desire to stay in New York, but New York’s braintrust had better deliver him the goods if they feel the same way.
Temperature check seems to indicate Judge would much rather do this whole thing here again next year, and teammates like Anthony Rizzo and Nestor Cortes certainly agree that the captaincy is waiting for him if he re-ups.
After another postseason washout, though, it’s not inconceivable for Hal Steinbrenner to look at the 30-year-old outfielder, look at the sum total of the results, and decide the team could come up short in their quest for the World Series without Judge, too.