Is Aaron Judge more than likely re-signing with the New York Yankees? It certainly feels that way. But is he going to do it without getting his way? Most definitely not. And it seems that could be two-fold.
The primary issue is the money. Judge needs to be paid what he’s worth. He needs to feel it’s the right amount. And the Yankees can’t play any games in the negotiation process. They lost the battle after Judge’s historic 2022 season. Time to pay the bills.
But then there’s the roster. Following his AL MVP win on Thursday night, Judge expressed the desire to be part of a “winning culture and winning future” as he deliberates during free agency. He mentioned that he’s come “pretty close” with the Yankees.
Historically, the Yankees have a winning culture. In recent decades? Not at all. One championship over the last 22 years. One of the most disappointing stretches in franchise history from 2010-present day. At no point during Judge’s career was the Yankees’ roster built to win beyond any shadow of a doubt, nor was it supplemented properly as it came close.
Don’t you think Judge has realized that based on what’s transpired since his rookie season in 2017? That year represented the Yankees’ peak of this current window. The roster isn’t good enough despite all the money invested. Does the organization now realize it needs to act fast to have other big moves lined up to convince Judge to stay?
Did Aaron Judge put pressure on the Yankees to make premier free agency moves?
Per both parties, Judge has had multiple conversations with Hal Steinbrenner and Brian Cashman. Since then, Steinbrenner and Cashman have expressed a slight willingness to go beyond their means to supplement the roster alongside Judge should he re-sign longterm.
There’s no definitive proof that Judge influenced that rhetoric or shift in philosophy, but it’s worth wondering based on the timeline of events ever since he officially became a free agent. Perhaps more than anybody, Judge knows this roster isn’t built to compete with the best/hottest teams come October.
You might ask, “But what about if it’s fully healthy?” That would be a dumb question, because it never is. The Yankees are always injured by design; the roster is stacked with unathletic, older, aching bodies. Besides, every team in this year’s postseason dealt with adversity in that realm. It’ll never be an excuse.
Judge has carried this team for two years now. He was the lone consistent force in 2021, and a fourth-place MVP finish dragged the Yankees into the AL Wild Card Game.
In 2022, if not for his literal Superman act in the second half, the team would’ve choked away the division, and it’s not even a debate. Had he been “above average” and not “otherworldly,” New York would’ve lost even more ground and probably would’ve gotten bounced earlier in the postseason, had they made it.
If everybody else realized it, then Judge, who was doing all the dirty work, certainly did too. He wants to be paid and have the necessary support around him because of his desire to win. Only a person of his influence can force the Yankees’ hand in regard to righting wrongs with the irresponsible money they’ve spent.