As if any Yankees fan forced to watch their middling team try to exist midsummer without Aaron Judge needed any further proof that there are far worse uses of $40 million annually, welcome to New York Giants football!
The year-over-year regression experienced by a Yankees/Giants fan between 2022 and 2023 is enough to give even the strongest neck permanent whiplash, but the Judge extension may very well be the only thing holding this two-pronged fan base back from complete annihilation.
In 2022, the Yankees were a 99-win AL East champion that fumbled the playoff bag, but still had to feel kind of confident after starting 52-18 and on a 1998-ish pace. In 2022, the New York Giants went to the playoffs in their first year under Brian Daboll and Joe Schoen with essentially the same roster that had gone 4-13 and gotten bludgeoned under Joe Judge.
In 2023, every single thing has gone wrong for both teams. Every. Single. Thing. Except Gerrit Cole. The Yankees have one (1) silver lining. The Giants don't. You have to either try hard to foul things up this spectacularly, or the universe has to despise you. The Yanks' misbegotten '23 season actually never ended; they simply took to the MetLife Stadium turf, and will be playing football through early January.
And Daniel Jones, seeing a new breed of Sam Darnold-esque ghosts on Monday night and looking worse than ever, will make the same AAV for the next four years that Judge currently pockets in the Bronx.
NY Giants quarterback Daniel Jones makes same average annual salary as Aaron Judge
Of course, the contracts are different. There's an out in Jones' deal that could have him looking for work once again, with only ~$20 million of dead money in his wake, after next season. Technically, he only holds a cap hit of $15,435,000 this season before things skyrocket to $47,105,000 next winter. Judge makes $40 million annually, and he does it cleanly. Jones makes a vacillating salary that ... well, still equates to an average of $40 million, on the dot, every year for the next four years (if he fulfills them).
It's imperfect. It's imprecise. But the numbers are right there, and they're very hilarious.
The '23 Yankees were doomed for, again, thousands of different reasons and malfunctions, but they probably still would've made the playoffs if Judge didn't run at breakneck speed into a concrete slab at Dodger Stadium. Alternatively, Jones' word-class durability means the Giants might be stuck with him for the full campaign, even as his cardboard offensive line threatens to get him flattened and bent sideways 8-12 times per game.
Jones was perfectly schemed in 2022, creating success that only a select few had ever envisioned for him. He's not Judge. He's not a one-of-a-kind specimen. He's a secret speed demon who doesn't have a Plan B, now that his quick game has been snuffed out. His brain has been befuddled by futility; he looks more perplexed by the game than ever before (or, at least, since before Daboll's arrival).
Judge? He was still the best version of himself when he was available in 2023, and while he needs to minimize risk a tick or two further next season, there aren't many better uses of $40 million on the open market.
That's, again, an open market Jones is almost sure to test again after next fall.