After Jon Heyman gave every Yankee fan a heart attack by reporting Aaron Judge was headed to San Francisco, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports that Aaron Judge is in agreement with the Yankees. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that it’s a 9 year $360 million contract, making Judge the highest paid player in Yankees history. It’s currently pending a physical, but assuming it goes through, the Yankees will have retained their biggest free agent and the biggest domino on the free agent market will have fallen. With 62 HRs last season, Aaron Judge was the runaway MVP for the American League, with the highest OPS+ and WAR since Barry Bonds for any position player in a single season.
The Yankees Didn’t Pay Too High of A Price
$360 million is a lot of money, but that doesn’t mean Aaron Judge isn’t worth it. Aaron Judge isn’t just one of the best players in baseball, he also happens to be one of the most recognizable. The Yankees directly profit from Aaron Judge simply being on the team; his jersey sales and impact to the fanbase is simply incredible. When we talk about on the field, Aaron Judge is beyond exemplary, and Yankee Stadium should favor the 6’7 titan as he ages since he can still shoot the ball the other way for HRs with advanced age. Judge also no longer has to worry about being a full-time CF, meaning he can hang back in RF and handle a smaller part of the ballpark for the foreseeable future, something that should prolong his career.
There’s obvious risk with signing a player through their age 40 season, but for someone as talented as Aaron Judge, this is a no-brainer. There isn’t a player in the Statcast era who can compare to the raw power output of Aaron Judge, ranking 1st in a variety of batted ball metrics:
- 95.3 Average Exit Velocity (1st)
- 20.5% Barrel% (1st)
- 56.7% Hard Hit% (1st)
- 32.2% Home Run to Flyball Rate (1st)
Aaron Judge projects really well for 2023, being Steamer’s 2nd best position player at a 6.7 fWAR alongside a 158 wRC+. He’s truly a special talent, and he’ll hopefully don the ‘C’ as he becomes the next Yankee captain.
What’s Next For the Yankees?
Jon Heyman reported before the Judge frenzy last night that the Yankees see two-time All-Star Carlos Rodon as someone they can fit in the budget alongside Aaron Judge, and Rodon would give the Yankees the best rotation in baseball. Nothing is set in stone, but the Yankees got their biggest question mark out of the way with Aaron Judge. They’ll still look to potentially add a left-handed bat for LF (Conforto, Yoshida, Benintendi), but I imagine Nimmo is out of the realm of possibility unless the Yankees miss out on Rodon. Andy Martino of SNY also reported heavy mutual interest for Carlos Rodon, so if there’s any splash signing for the Yankees after this, I’d bet it’s him.
Aaron Judge coming back makes the Yankees a far more enticing free agent destination now, as the AL MVP is back and free agents are going to want to play alongside him. The Yankees look to defend their AL East crown, and with the Houston Astros losing Justin Verlander to the Mets, they look to try to take the top spot in the American League for the first time since 2009. The Yankees look determined to do whatever it takes to win, and the Judge contract is just the first step in that process. Let out a sigh of relief, Aaron Judge is back in the Bronx.