If the New York Yankees are unsure if Aaron Judge is going to sign a contract extension, that could be a reason to pursue Juan Soto heavily at the trade deadline. However, things are progressing slowly on the Judge front, as the two sides continue to disagree on a yearly salary.
According to Jon Heyman of the New York Post, the Yankees are unwilling to increase Judge’s AAV significantly:
The Yankees are willing to bump their offer of $30.5 million salary, perhaps to $32.5M or so. But there’s no reason to believe Judge is lowering his ask from $36M to something closer to $32.5M — not shocking because he’s done everything he can to prove his original contention (that he should be valued like Mike Trout and Gerrit Cole) — and no reason to believe they are any closer.
If the Yankees are only willing to go up two million per season, they may end up losing him at the end of the day. In all likelihood, they will probably settle somewhere in the middle around $33.5–34 million per year, but there’s always the possibility another team jumps in and looks to acquire the 30-year-old slugger as a free agent.
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Aaron Judge looks like an MVP for the Yankees this year:
Judge is having an MVP-caliber season, hitting .282 with a 36.6% on base rate and .619 slugging percentage. He has a 173 wRC+, indicating he is 73% better than the average MLB player. He’s hit 34 homers this season with 73 RBIs, on pace to break both career bests by a significant margin at the halfway point in the season.
In fact, when the Yankees needed him most on Thursday night against the Houston Astros, he belted a three-run home run in the top of the 9th inning to draw them within two. Despite the loss, Judge showcased what he’s capable of, clutch hitting against one of the best teams in baseball.
Judge features a 60.3% hard-hit rate, 25.1% barrel rate, and 95.4 mph of exit velocity. His hard-hit metrics are simply impeccable, and the Yankees obviously want to retain that level of production and efficiency for the long term.
If the Yankees don’t make any moves at the trade deadline, they will be in a tough spot to replace him if he walks this upcoming off-season. However, they may have a bit more leverage if they do acquire another outfielder.
Judge has already made it known he prefers to stay in the Bronx, where he’s built a brand and image, but he may have to compromise a bit on his salary, especially since he’s looking for a 10-year deal, leaving him at 40 years old when it would expire.