The New York Yankees made their first offseason pitch to Aaron Judge a few weeks back, hopefully starting it with, “We’re sorry for disrespecting you by leaking our preseason offer. Our bad.”
According to Hal Steinbrenner, the two sides have met several times since the end of 2022, in both one-on-one and group settings. Though Judge’s preferences are still unknown, Steinbrenner boasted to the gathered media last week that he does not plan to be outbid.
Judge’s process of testing that promise officially begins on Tuesday.
The outfielder is currently stuck in what feels like a three-horse race between the incumbent Yankees, the San Francisco Giants and the Los Angeles Dodgers, freshly free of Cody Bellinger’s salary — though the possibility of a mystery team’s entrance still lingers. The Dodgers are the Dodgers, forever interested in the next iteration of the latest and greatest. The Yankees can promise a hefty raise on their initial offers, a potential captaincy, and a pledge to avoid complacency.
The Giants? They, too, have gobs of money. They also have the unique ability to sign Judge to a hometown discount (without the discount), considering he grew up a fan of Barry Bonds in right. Hmm. Returning to your hometown … without a pay cut of any kind … sounds appealing.
Judge landed in San Francisco Monday night under cover of Thanksgiving, announcing his plans to see family and friends. He’s also going to see the Giants on Tuesday, at which point he’ll gather more information to help him through the rest of this process.
Yankees News: Aaron Judge meeting with San Francisco Giants today
Some Yankees fans showed their skittish true colors after this video emerged. There’s nothing to hide here. Aaron Judge is a free agent being considered by three teams. He was always going to meet with the three teams.
Doesn’t make this clip (complete with a wink) particularly pleasant, though.
There are unique benefits to every landing spot, and it’s now on the Yankees, Giants and Dodgers to swiftly prove to Judge that they plan on sustainably contending for titles, not just gate receipts. The Anthony Rizzo signing played a role there, but should only be the beginning. The Dodgers don’t have to say much here. The Giants have to sell Judge on their plan to return to their early-2010s glory.
Don’t kid yourself, either. Money will also play a massive role. If the Yankees didn’t plan to be in the ballpark, though, they would’ve bowed out before 2022. Nothing indicates the Yanks have made a best and final offer. This is exactly what the process should look like. Those decrying the fact that the Yankees “shouldn’t have even let it get this far” are also not-so-subtly advocating for Judge to have taken a contract before 2022 played out that would’ve left him underpaid, frustrated, and longing for free agency.
After an all-time Bet On Yourself season, the onus is on Judge to milk MLB teams for his maximum worth. Though No. 99 palling around by the bay will make Yankee fans queasy, this is just a standard step in the process.
Unless he never leaves.