Report: A look at how the Yankees should approach Aaron Judge’s monster contract extension

New York Yankees, Aaron Judge
USA Today

It is only a matter of time before the New York Yankees youth becomes eligible for massive contract extensions. The Baby Bombers are entering their primes, and with it will come luxurious contracts that could hit the $100 million mark.

Ranging from Aaron Judge to Gleyber Torres, general manager Brian Cashman must know what lies in the near future. Judge, who is arbitration-eligible until 2022, and becomes a free agent in 2023, is only two years from a major deal. Of course, the Yankees could elect to extend him before that, but he has a lot to prove before they feel comfortable splashing the cash over the next decade or so. reporter Bryan Hoch believes that Judge still hasn’t proven his worth:

Pardon the expression, but I feel that the jury is still out on a Judge extension, and the team seems to be playing a wait-and-see game. Judge is earning $10.175 million this year, and he could get a nice raise next season, his final year of arbitration before potentially becoming a free agent in 2023. I imagine that they will find common ground, but Judge’s health over the next two years — as well as the unsettled nature of baseball’s Collective Bargaining Agreement — could play significant roles in determining how much the Yankees are willing to commit.

There is a point to be made that Judge still needs to provide a healthy campaign before the Yankees commit to him. In 2020, he played in just 28 games, hitting nine homers and 22 RBIs. He was injured for the majority of the year, after playing just 102 games in 2019 due to a wrist injury. When healthy, though, Judge is one of the best hitters in baseball and is an elite right fielder defensively. Having posted three consecutive seasons with a 4.6 WAR or higher, the expectation is that he will return to the 2021 squad with a full bid of health.

The Yankees provided Judge with the perfect trainer:

New director of player performance and strength, Eric Cressey, believes that Judge and fellow slugger Giancarlo Stanton will be in better shape, reducing their heavy weight lifting and focusing more on stamina-based workouts, which should help their longevity.

“Both of those guys took a dramatically different approach this offseason from what they’ve previously done,” Cressey said. “I’d say in both cases, they lifted less than they have in the past.”

Ultimately, if Judge can put together a full season without missing too many games, it will be a major bonus for him as he gets closer to the end of team-control. Considering the Yankees have already carved out a section dedicated to him in the outfield, retaining him for the long term will not only be a fantastic marketing ploy but also make the team exponentially better. I couldn’t imagine seeing Aaron Judge in anything else but pinstripes, but they desperately need him to show he can stay healthy and dominate over the course of an entire season.