3 dark horse teams that can steal Aaron Judge from Yankees

3 of 3
Julio Rodriguez #44 of the Seattle Mariners (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
Julio Rodriguez #44 of the Seattle Mariners (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images) /

1. Seattle Mariners

Robinson Cano 2.0?! Not quite! The Mariners just snapped their two-decade playoff drought and nearly (yes, nearly) took down the Houston Astros in the ALDS. They blew two late-game leads and then lost a 1-0 marathon after 18 innings. They were very much in it every step of the way.

With just $92 million committed to 2023 (that figure could be ~$130 million with arbitration costs and contract options), their pitching already taken care of, Julio Rodriguez locked up for the long haul, and a number of team-friendly deals helping them get by, adding Judge to the fold is doable and realistic. And there’s the allure of being on a team that’s built for the future (at a ballpark he seemingly always drills moonshots out of).

There’s an immediate vacancy in right field with Mitch Haniger hitting free agency. Let’s say the Mariners keep everybody and their payroll without Judge is $143.6 million (per Baseball-Reference). They have further room to spend, with the first luxury tax threshold all the way at $230 million. They’re not losing a single impact player until after 2024 (unless you count Haniger and Adam Frazier for this offseason, potentially).

The AL West also runs through Houston, but the Astros’ time won’t be forever. The Mariners threatened in 2022. Seattle has a diverse set of offensive players, and one more huge bat could propel them into the top 10 or even the top five in MLB.

This puts Judge much closer to home in Northern California, too. That’s going to be a factor, whether Yankees fans accept it or not. It’s all going to come down to whether or not the Yankees miff him in negotiations the second time around.