New York Yankees: Is Aaron Judge worth a massive contract extension?

New York Yankees, Aaron Judge

The New York Yankees of already carved a section of their stadium out for slugger Aaron Judge. Judge was drafted by the Oakland Athletics in the 31st round of the 2010 MLB June amateur draft but was then selected by the Yankees in the first round of the 2013 amateur Draft.

As it stands, the Athletics missed out on what looks like a generational talent at 6-foot-7 and 282 pounds. At 28 years old, Judge is quickly achieving veteran status in the MLB, despite only reaching the majors in 2016. In his first full season of play, Judge earned the runner-up accolade for MVP and was rookie of the year. His .284 batting average and 52 home runs lead the team and set a benchmark for him moving forward.

Unfortunately, Judge has failed to remain healthy the past two seasons, playing in 112 games in 2018 and 102 games in 2019. He had the same number of home runs in both seasons (27). However, Judge is entering long term extension territory,, and the Yankees have been quiet about a possible deal.

The Yankees let Judge go to arbitration this season, where he will earn $8.5 million. Nonetheless, his market value is in the $28.5 million range per season, according to spotrac. He will be officially a free agent in 2023, but I imagine the Yankees will sign him long before then.

Ultimately, the driving force behind an extension is his injury history. The last two seasons have been insufficient in terms of games played at the price-tag he likely expects. The Yankees must see more continued health and production if they are to unload a salary paying him close to $30 million per season. An expected contract might be over 10 years, ending when Judge is around 38-40 years.

Judge has been recovering from a stress fracture in a rib he suffered last September supposedly. His recovery has gone well, but he could still miss time despite a shortened season that could start in early July. The MLB suspending operations has actually helped Judge and his quest for a massive extension. He will likely end up missing minimal games where is he would’ve been forced out for half the 2020 season, otherwise. All of these things should be considered early forward.

Judge’s marketability and popularity within the Yankees fan base make him an essential asset. He likely brings in an exorbitant amount of money to the team, and letting a player like that walk without only disrupt the fan base, but also hurt the Steinbrenner’s cash flow. Then again, paying him that much money puts them in luxury tax hell.