There’s a very real possibility the New York Yankees are unable to secure Aaron Judge’s signature for the future. The rumored San Francisco Giants are expected to make a healthy bid for his services, and I wouldn’t rule out the New York Mets pursuing his talents either given their influx of payroll flexibility.
Judge has already stated his intention to stay in the Bronx, continuing a legacy he’s already built as one of the best players in baseball. Coming off a historic 2022 campaign, owner Hal Steinbrenner knows that Judge is a cash cow and represents their fan base and team perfectly.
Portraying an immaculate image and great locker room presence, Judge offers much more than just tangible traits on the baseball diamond.
However, after being booed in the postseason and other competitive teams looking to get into a bidding war, it is possible the Yankees fall short of their desire to extend Judge. In that scenario, it is possible they look toward the shortstop market, plugging a position that has plagued them over the past few years.
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The Yankees could turn their attention toward the elite shortstop market if Aaron Judge walks:
Former Houston Astros shortstop Carlos Correa spent one season with the Minnesota Twins on a three-year, $105.3 million deal. He opted out after the first season, hitting the open market once again coming off a solid 2022 campaign.
Across 136 games, Correa hit .291 with a 36.6% on-base rate, 22 homers, and 64 RBIs. He earned a 140 wRC+, suggesting he was 40% better than the average MLB player. With elite offensive capabilities and stellar defensive qualities in tow, the Yankees could reallocate the funds they saved for Judge toward an elite shortstop like Correa. However, given his history of cheating with Houston and the implications it had on the Yankees, it is possible they want nothing to do with him.
However, ignoring the fact that he is one of the best shortstops in baseball is simply ill-advised. Considering he took how much shorter contract with an annual salary of $35.1 million, we should expect him to hover around that range once again, especially if a team like the Yankees prefers a shorter deal.
The other top shortstop on the market is Los Angeles Dodgers star, Trea Turner. At 29 years old, Turner hit .298 with a 34.3% on-base rate, 21 homers, 100 RBIs, and 27 stolen bases this year. He struck out at 18.5% and walked at 6.4%, earning 128 wRC+ Traditionally, Turner hasn’t been the best postseason player, hitting .238 with a 27.9% on-base rate across 43 games, but his regular season numbers are some of the best in the game.
Turner has elite athleticism and offers well above average defensive qualities, given his even defensive runs saved above average over nearly 1,400 innings this year.
Turner has a market value of $33.6 million, per Spotrac. His 2022 salary was $21 million, so he is set to earn a nice payday himself over a long-term contract.
The only reason the Yankees would stay away from an elite shortstop would be the emergence of Anthony Volpe, climbing his way to Triple-A this season.
Volpe is considered the future of a team at SS, as suggested by general manager Brian Cashman‘s acquisition of Isiah Kiner-Falefa before the season began. The team is simply looking for stop-gaps until Volpe is ready to be their long-term solution, but if they can lock down an elite player on a short-term deal, they may end up walking away with more value than damage.