The New York Yankees will do everything in their power to retain star slugger Aaron Judge at the end of the 2022 season, but there will be competitors for his services. Reports have already indicated teams like the San Francisco Giants could be in the fold for Judge if they’re willing to splash the cash on an excessive contract.
Before the 2022 season began, the Yankees offered Judge a seven-year deal worth $31.5 million per season. Smartly, Judge turned the contract extension down, betting on himself. Because of that, Judge is now in line to earn significantly more, tying the single-season home run record held by Roger Maris. He’s one homer away from breaking the record at 30 years old, propelling himself into a high-leverage situation regarding negotiations during the off-season.
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The Yankees are playing a dangerous game with Aaron Judge:
The Yankees will likely try to sidestep a 10-year deal that would end when Judge is 40 years old. Preferably, hovering in the 7–8 year range makes the most sense, but the team has to be wary of the New York Mets, their crosstown rivals with an unlimited amount of money thanks to Steve Cohen.
In fact, superstar Shohei Ohtani signed a one-year, $30 million deal in arbitration with the Los Angeles Angels, having a no-trade clause with every team but the Mets. Clearly, that is an indication the Mets will be open for business, and with Jacob deGrom coming off the books, they will have plenty of cash flow to continue bolstering the team.
The Yankees have some money coming off the books themselves, with Aroldis Chapman, Joey Gallo, and Zack Britton all off the team.
However, the Bombers will have to think realistically in terms of Judge’s consistency. The chances of him replicating this season are unlikely, but we know he’s capable of hitting 40+ homers per season over the next few years with ease. Given his ability to get on base and the respect he’s getting from opposing pitchers after this season, his value is difficult to put a price tag on.
However, the Mets have already surpassed the top luxury tax threshold, so Cohen is not necessarily concerned about overpaying. In fact, he likely uses the team as a tax deduction from his primary earnings. Baring his unlimited funding and Judge’s impact, the Mets could be in World Series contention next season boasting both Judge and Ohtani, leaving the Yankees in their dust.
At the end of the day, cash is king, and Hal Steinbrenner needs to be careful not to get trampled.