Thinking about life after Aaron Judge is an unfortunate reality for the New York Yankees as he tests the free agent market. Judge has spent the last week on the West Coast enjoying first-class treatment from the San Francisco Giants, who are trying to acquire services on a monster contract extension.
While his entire West Coast adventure may be a mirage to drive up the price tag for the Yankees, they need to be considering alternatives in case his interest is real.
The free agent market is flush with talent at this point in time, with teams not expected to make significant moves until the winter meetings in a few weeks. However, general manager Brian Cashman has already connected with a myriad of different agents to gauge price tags and health.
In the scenario that the Bombers do lose out on Judge, they may immediately turn toward the second tier of outfield options and one of the top starting pitchers to bolster the rotation.
The Athletic’s Jim Bowden suggested that the Yankees could turn their attention to the pitching market and second-tier of outfielders if they lose Aaron Judge to free agency.
“I expect the Yankees to quickly pivot and attempt to sign Justin Verlander or Jacob deGrom along with an outfielder such as (Brandon) Nimmo.”
The Yankees can build a super-rotation and acquire an above-average outfielder:
While the probability of signing Justin Verlander is low, Cashman has expressed interest in his services. The Yankees presented a one-year, $25 million option deal for Verlander last off-season, but after winning the Cy Young award this year, his value has skyrocketed.
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At 39 years old, there is concern that his age could impact his performance moving forward, but given the return of his velocity and accuracy, teams will be lining up to bid for his insertion into their respective rotations.
Going after Verlander or even Jacob deGrom would provide the Yankees with one of the best rotations in the game, but they would lose arguably the best player in baseball in the process.
A secondary option to supplement the loss of Judge would be Brandon Nimmo, a 29-year-old free agent coming from the New York Mets. Nimmo hit .274 with a 36.7% on-base rate this past season, including 16 homers and a career-high 102 runs scored. His career-low 17.2% strikeout rate indicated he was more patient in the batter’s box, which is a positive sign for any team looking to acquire him this off-season.
Keep in mind that Nimmo is no Judge, recording a career-high 17 homers back in 2018 with the Mets. Defensively, he has the most experience in center field, but with Harrison Bader residing there, he would likely shift over to left field. That would open up the right side for Oswaldo Cabrera, who was electric last season.
It is difficult to even consider life without Judge and his incredible offensive qualities, but figuring out how to supplement his loss is unfortunately a necessity at this point in time.