Ahead of the New York Yankees’ splurge on Aaron Judge, most agreed:
- The contract would be an overpay and extend too many years into the future.
- The contract still had to be done, regardless.
Never mind Judge’s on-field contributions; even if he never hits 62 homers again (and it’s likely he won’t!), a healthy Judge should be one of the two or three most valuable players in baseball for the next half-decade. Without him, the lineup wilts. With him, the lineup was already wilting!
No, this came down to clubhouse presence, too. So much ink has been spilled in recent weeks and months about Judge being a uniquely galvanizing force behind closed doors, going out of his way to welcome new teammates and foster a brotherhood between disparate forces. You lose Judge, and the whole ecosystem comes crashing down, creating a leadership void for the ages. Anthony Rizzo can’t do it all.
That’s why, in a market that’s developed unlike any in recent years — thanks, lockout! — CC Sabathia spoke in plain terms this week about the Yankees’ apparent “overpay” to keep their home run king. It wasn’t an overpay at all. Judge’s worth extends beyond the boundaries of monetary value.
CC Sabathia says Aaron Judge is worth every penny Yankees paid him
According to TMZ Sports’ catch-up with Sabathia:
"“I think he got paid the perfect amount,” CC said of Judge.“The biggest signing was to get Aaron Judge,” he said. “And they got that accomplished. So, everything after that is just icing on the cake.”"
True, but the Yankees — and their fans — would, uh, still like Carlos Rodón, someone Sabathia has praised in the past as perfect for New York.
Bottom line? You can’t replace 10.6 WAR that easily. You can’t just rip out the Judge’s Chambers and replace them with Tim Locastro’s Running Shoe Warehouse. You can’t import a captain. The money stings (in the eyes of non-billionaires), but was a necessary cost of running a franchise like the New York Yankees, especially in this economic climate.
Now, the Yankees must dedicate to building around Judge, seeing as they’ve secured their most important building block. Maybe it’s this offseason. Maybe it’s the next, when Josh Donaldson comes off the books. There are now several prime Judge years to work with, and the Yankees’ frustrating inability to maximize his pre-arb years has melted into the past.
After Judge’s signing, former Yankees ace David Cone made a well-crafted point on The Michael Kay Show about the right fielder’s surplus value. Might the Yanks lose on the back end of this deal? Sure. Possible. But what about the massive profits they made on Judge’s likeness while he was being paid peanuts in 2017, as well as the on-field benefits of his lean years?
Judge has already been worth $360 million or more to this franchise. This compensation is just evening things out a little bit, and shouldn’t hinder the pursuit of a World Series while the books are being balanced.