Yankees’ Aaron Judge opens up about hitting free agency and desire to stay in New York

Alexander Wilson
aaron judge, yankees
Sep 22, 2022; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge (99) walks to his position in right field during the fifth inning against the Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

With the 2022 season officially coming to an end for the New York Yankees, the attention of general manager Brian Cashman now turns toward the off-season. With free agency coming up in just a few weeks and the winter hot stove months gearing up to take flight, the speculation and excitement about Aaron Judge’s final destination will undoubtedly be plastered across the media.

However, the Yankees still have an opportunity to get a deal done with leverage. Judge has spent his entire career up to this point playing for the Bombers, enjoying a historical season that scratched his name into the history books.

While Judge did experience a few boos from fans during the postseason, there is no question that he’s deserving of every penny he’s going to earn in free agency and then some.

Even Cashman knows there’s a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow for Judge, it’s just a matter of how much and who’s willing to give the most.

“There’s a pot of gold there. It’s yet to be determined what the gold — how much it weighs — but it’s a pot of gold, no doubt about it. So good for him. It was already a big pot and, obviously, it’ll be bigger,” GM Brian Cashman told the Associated Press about Judge’s upcoming free agency prior to the ALDS. “He’s put himself in an amazing position to have a lot of choices. And clearly, obviously, we’d like to win the day on that discussion, and that’s obviously for another day. But we said that before the season. We said that many times during the season. If you need to hear it again. I’ll say it again: Yeah, of course we love to have Aaron Judge back as New York Yankee, but that’s all for another day.”

The Yankees struck out trying to sign Aaron Judge before the 2022 season:

The Yankees offered Judge $31.5 million per year over a seven-year contract before the season began, but he took a big risk and bet on himself. Clearly, that was the right decision, given he’s set to earn upward of $35 million per year as one of the highest-paid players in the game.

However, there have already been many rumors that West Coast teams like the San Francisco Giants may look to acquire the 30-year-old slugger on a behemoth deal. Judge stated after the loss on Sunday, after officially being knocked out of the playoffs, that he’s always wanted to stay in pinstripes.

“I’ve been clear about that since I first wore the pinstripes. But we couldn’t get something done before spring training and now I’m a free agent and we’ll see what happens.”

Judge knows that his future with the Yankees is in jeopardy, but for the best reasons. After hitting .311 with a 42.5% on-base rate, 62 homers, and 131 RBIs, there will be a team that sees the astronomical value in his presence. Regardless of his on-field production, he’s also a fantastic human being and great clubhouse addition.

It will likely come down to years for Cashman, trying to stick around the seven-year mark while paying a bit more AAV. The Bombers already have Giancarlo Stanton and Gerrit Cole on monster contracts, so adding another to the mix certainly isn’t their preference.

However, they have a section of Yankee Stadium already carved out for Aaron Judge, so they’ve ultimately done this to themselves. God forbid your team is excellent at developing superstar-quality talent…

This is a great problem to have if you’re the Yankees — young talent ends up so dominant you’re forced to pay the price.

Nonetheless, Judge stating his intentions to stay in New York means that if he walks, it is simply because Cashman and Hal Steinbrenner didn’t cough up enough money to get the deal done.