Rumors emerged this week that the Los Angeles Dodgers were considering ignoring Trea Turner’s market and converting Mookie Betts to a second baseman in order to fill their annual offseason superstar hunt with Aaron Judge.
As natural a fit as the Dodgers are in any free agency market, this sounded like a smokescreen immediately, meant to drive up the price for LA’s natural rivals: the San Francisco Giants, who had every reason to join (and potentially lead) the Judge market.
After all, the Giants backslid in 2022 off a surprise 107-win season. They lost in the NLDS in 2021, likely a superstar or two away from real contention. They are, and will always be, Judge’s childhood favorite team, and the first place he ever glimpsed Barry Bonds from the bleachers.
If the right fielder has it in his heart to leave the Yankees, or gets disrespected by Brian Cashman’s follow-up offer to the spring contract he never should’ve leaked, San Francisco was always the natural next step.
According to NJ.com’s Randy Miller, the Giants weren’t at all deterred by the Dodgers’ reported pursuit. Their braintrust is all in on Judge, and will reportedly “outbid the Yankees and everyone else”. Now, the only remaining question is … by how much?
San Francisco Giants want to outbid Yankees for Aaron Judge
All things equal, Judge seems to prefer remaining a Yankee, and Anthony Rizzo — who’s spoken repeatedly on his behalf both before and after elimination — seems likely to follow the slugger.
The Giants, on the other hand, probably prefer to make this as unequal as possible. All Yankee fans can hope for is Hal Steinbrenner and Brian Cashman coming to their senses and lagging close behind, rather than far off in the distance.
This isn’t the first time the Yankees have been caught up in a bidding war with a rival who will reportedly do “whatever it takes” to secure the services of their target. The same discourse leaked when Gerrit Cole was on the market, and ultimately, the Angels’ offer didn’t come close to what New York could provide him, monetarily and emotionally.
Of course, Judge and Cole are on opposite planes here; Judge was a childhood Giants fan, while Cole was a Yankee fan today, tomorrow, forever.
Money will sway this race more than childhood good feelings, but if both the vibes and cash sit on one side, that could make switching leagues remarkably easy for Judge, especially if he was put off by Cashman’s preseason leaks this year.
The whole Yankees team — even those who aren’t guaranteed to be around next year like Rizzo — has gone into overdrive trying to communicate to the board just how important Judge is to their efforts, and just how difficult it will be to compete at the same level without their de facto captain.
But is regular-season dominance enough? Or will the Giants’ pot look sweeter, especially if they add the additional two superstars they’ve promised (per Miller)?
Either way, fans will find out … on Opening Day 2023, when the Yankees play host to the Giants.