3 reasons Aaron Judge has every right to leave Yankees in free agency

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A take from earlier in the year that seemed to age poorly might just be turning the corner to blossom into one of the finer tasting wines of this beautiful autumn season. New York Yankees star Aaron Judge is hitting free agency, and it’s once again never felt more real that he could actually leave.

The Yankees have let it get to this point. They’ll now be competing with teams willing to offer the most possible money. There are far more teams with better financial flexibility, too.

On top of that, there are legitimate reasons why Judge shouldn’t come back, which is scary. His three MVP-like seasons have gone to waste with the Yankees falling short in the playoffs — embarrassingly so.

That’s not even cracking our top three, though. The Yankees, who famously never give out contract extensions to players before free agency, decided to do so with Aaron Hicks and Luis Severino. Those two deals blew up in their face. God forbid they prioritized the most important players to the franchise. Can’t possibly do that.

If you’re optimistic Judge will return, that’s great. Most Yankees fans hope he does. It’s just hard to carry over such positivity into an uncertain offseason when this organization has dropped the ball time and time again. There shouldn’t be any surprise if they botch this situation, either, because …

Aaron Judge has many legitimate reasons to spurn Yankees in free agency

New York Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images) /

3. Yankees Didn’t Get a Deal Done in Time

The Yankees knew this was coming. Judge’s impending free agency has been discussed for well over a year now. In 2021, he put to rest his “injury concerns” (which were a couple of freak accidents) with a 148-game campaign where he finished fourth in the MVP voting and won a Silver Slugger. He scored 89 runs, hit 39 homers, and had 98 RBI on the league’s 19th-ranked offense in terms of runs scored.

He was the lone source of consistency in 2021, which saved the Yankees from missing the playoffs. He was the long source of consistency in 2022, which saved the Yankees from choking away a 15.5-game lead in the division.

Judge requested a deal to be done before Opening Day if the Yankees were interested in signing him to an extension. He made it clear after the season ended. Multiple times over the past year he’s expressed he wanted to be a Yankee for life.

Though the Yankees’ offer at the time was indeed fair, Judge bet on himself and won. And now the Yankees have put themselves in a perilous situation. They don’t like overpaying. They don’t like offering long-term contracts. They don’t like offering high AAVs. They could’ve given Judge an extra $40-$50 million to make this stalemate go away, but now they’ll be on the hook for $100 million or more, it seems.

They didn’t prioritize their most important player. Why should he prioritize them?