Aaron Judge bet on himself, and it will pay off handsomely.
The reigning MVP of the American League hit the open market after a historic, record-breaking season with baseball’s most popular and visible franchise. Whoever he lands will have to pay a lot more than the $213.5 million extension offer he rejected from the New York Yankees last spring.
Let’s break down Judge’s free agency by looking at the pros and cons of signing him, and evaluating the star’s potential suitors.
The high number was, of course, 62 home runs, a new American League record. But Judge has also shown that he is much more than a home run hitter. He made a legitimate run in the Triple Crown, and though he fell short, his . 311 average ranked second in the AL. Judge also led the majors in OBP (.425), slugging (.686), OPS (1.111), total bases (391), runs (133), extra base hits (90), and walks (111).
We can be realistic and say the judge will never reach 62 again. But even with a slight drop in production, you’re still getting a natural hitter who’s perfectly capable of throwing out .300/.400/.500 annually. There’s also his quietly strong defense on the field, which won’t win a Gold Glove but is very good for a player his size. Judge has been a positive defender on both the right and center this year, and he has one of the best weapons on the field. Who does not subscribe to that?
From a marketing point of view, it is very difficult to make a mistake here. Judge is a gentle giant with a million dollar smile Interact with fans It spreads instantly. He’s the kind of professional athlete who dreams of sporting excellence for the franchise. He also overtook the sport, having finished fourth People 2022 sexiest man alive existing. On and off the court, Judge is the complete package and arguably worth every penny he asks for.
Obviously, the number one reason for decline is money. Judge, who will turn 31 in April, is believed to be seeking a minimum eight-year deal with an average annual value of more than $40 million, Mark Vinsand from MLB.com I mentioned Monday. That price alone instantly wipes out a whole lot of difference.
Those willing to go to great lengths should carefully consider the risks of doing so.
Judge isn’t as injury-prone as longtime teammate Giancarlo Stanton, but he’s dealt with his fair share of ailments. Even ditching the odd wrist fracture in 2018, he lost significant time in both 2019 and ’20 due to oblique and wheel problems. Judge may be a wondrously talented 6-foot-7 athlete, but he also has a body type and stature that will betray him with age. The mobility that makes him such a good fielder despite his size won’t last forever, which makes a future transition to first base, or even strict designated hitting duties, a real possibility. No one wants to be stuck paying nearly 40 years of DH with rapidly declining $40+ million production.
May the judge gracefully weather these tendencies and ages throughout the life of his next deal. Or maybe it’s worth reaping the short-term winnings now and letting someone else worry about dealing with a slow judge in 2034. The truth is, handing that kind of money to a star player on the wrong side of 30 often ends badly. If you are going to sign the judge, you must be comfortable accepting these risks.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Judge would be a huge success in Hollywood, but he’s not the smoothest on the field. There have been whispers that Mookie Betts might have one Move to second base If the judge arrives, though, he’s by far the better advocate. One of them can always play position, or the judge can switch left for the first time in his career. Regardless, the Dodgers need outfielders they can obviously afford, and the best third baseman in their lineup would be downright intimidating. If the judge really wanted to become the Dodger, he could easily cut the check and find out the rest later.
New York Mets: Can the Mets really lure a judge across town? This possibility cannot be ruled out, especially since owner Steve Cohen seems to like opening his wallet. A signed judge would have the added benefit of dealing a particularly devastating blow to the Yankees, who could find themselves in a back seat to their civilian rivals for the first time since the 1980s. The Mets’ most pressing need is to start pitching, but they still need to make that call. The judge can put it over the top.
New York Yankees: Do we really need to explain this? Judge is a Yankees pillar, the next in a long line of franchise icons. They want to keep him, they can obviously pay his price, and although he clearly enjoys free agency, there is no indication that Judge actively wants to leave. It would be a disastrous day for the franchise if he was allowed to walk. Sure, Hal Steinbrenner can find the money to make sure Judge is a Yankee for life.
San Francisco Giants: This will be a homecoming for Judge, who grew up a Giants fan about 90 minutes east of San Francisco in Linden, California. It was giants Open They are willing and able to make it through this winter, and are in desperate need of an outfielder and right-handed batter. The judge fits this description. And the Also capable of handling Oracle Park’s wide field defensively. In the winter of 1992, the Giants shockingly outbid the Yankees for the best player in the Bay Area named Barry Bonds. It is not unlikely that they will be able to do it again.
Texas Rangers: Of all the potential wild cards in this race, Rangers seem to make the most sense. Texans’ most pressing need is a stadium, so the convenience is clearly there. Last winter, it set aside $556 million for Marcus Semin, Corey Seeger, and John Gray. In October, he lured veteran manager Bruce Bochy out of retirement. You can’t make these kinds of moves into contention just to sit on your hands when Aaron Judge is available. Rangers clearly love to spend, but it’s worth wondering if they might decline to add a third massive deal to their long-term salary commitments.
prediction: Judge listens to everyone but eventually re-signs with the Yankees to a nine-year, $375 million deal.