Aaron Judge is currently in the Bay Area for Thanksgiving weekend and he parlayed that with a meeting with the San Francisco Giants to open up his free agency tour. For those New York Yankees fans out there stressing about it, this was an inevitability, unless he was offered $400 million to stay in the Bronx. And that was never going to happen.
Could the Yankees have made a better pre-Opening Day offer? Absolutely. But they were never meeting Judge’s rumored demands back then without another full, healthy campaign under his belt.
In the end, Judge earned a free agency tour after an historic offensive season — literally, one of the 25 best of all time. He should kick back, relax, and see what everybody else has to offer, whether he actually wants to leave or not. Enjoy the dinners, the expensive bottles of wine, the swag bags, the free tickets, meeting sports legends, etc. Whatever it is, have fun.
But … could this all be just a show? Is Judge prancing around town to solely enjoy his time as the belle of the ball while he lets the interminable pressure of being a Yankee dissipate for a few weeks?
Why do we wonder that? Because esteemed MLB insider Jeff Passan doesn’t seem to think there’s an alternative path for Judge outside of remaining with the only team he’s ever known.
Jeff Passan thinks all signs point to Aaron Judge returning to the Yankees
"“I have no reason to believe otherwise yet. Everything points to [Aaron Judge] staying with the New York Yankees … I think he enjoyed being a New York Yankee and that the benefits outweighed the detriments … I think the Yankees, when all’s said and done, have the most money to pay him … and I think the Yankees have the greatest incentive of any team to bring him back. Without Aaron Judge — they’re a flawed baseball team right now — they are nowhere close to what they can be.”"
Passan also noted the Giants have never paid anybody over $200 million and that Farhan Zaidi, the team’s president of baseball operations who came up with the A’s, may not be inclined to spend a prohibitive amount to lure Judge in if a bidding war were to commence.
He added the Dodgers probably won’t be a threat unless Judge’s market fails to materialize (which is when they would swoop in and presumably offer the short-term high-AAV deal fans have been accustomed to seeing from them). He doesn’t think LA would be willing to go far beyond $200 million to make it happen.
It’s been widely reported Judge wasn’t expected to put pen to paper on any deal before the winter meetings, so that was already one reason Yankees fans could enjoy a stress-free Thanksgiving and include the slugger in their pre-dinner prayers.
Maybe slip in a mention of Jeff Passan when saying grace, too, because he surely eased a lot of the tension as some sects of the fanbase were starting to worry about Judge being courted by the only team that seemed to be a true threat to the Yankees in free agency.