Yankees’ free-agency strategy takes big turn after Aaron Judge extension

carlos rodon, yankees
May 9, 2022; San Francisco, California, USA; San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Carlos Rodon (16) pitches the ball against the Colorado Rockies during the first inning at Oracle Park. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees signed star slugger Aaron Judge to a nine-year, $360 million deal after the San Diego Padres and San Francisco Giants failed to land his services on the open market.

The Padres reportedly reached $400 million, but the Yankees convinced Judge that remaining in the Bronx was in his best interest and part of a bigger strategy to make him one of the biggest names in the history of the game.

With that being said, the Yankees’ off-season strategy has just begun. General manager Brian Cashman had been waiting patiently to resolve Judge’s extension before pursuing other free agents more aggressively, despite being connected to starting pitcher Carlos Rodon and a myriad of different outfield options to plug the left field spot.

“With Judge set to return, the Yankees intend to accelerate other free-agent pursuits. Left-hander Carlos Rodón, outfielder Andrew Benintendi and Japanese outfielder Matsataka Yoshida are among the players in whom they have interest.“

Per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic.

The Yankees are not stopping their free-agent spending spree now:

The Yankees entered Wednesday with $60 million left in total active payroll to reach their 2022 number, but with $40 million allocated toward Judge, that leaves them with $20 million in excess cash to spend unless they plan to push past the first luxury tax threshold. That means they could have upward of $40 million available to spend this off-season.

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At the end of the day, Judge only wanted to sign with the team that would continue adding pieces around him to build a World Series-caliber roster. The Yankees have that type of financial freedom, given they’re one of the most profitable teams in the history of sports, which suggests they could seriously be in on Rodon, who’s coming off a fantastic 2022 season.

Rodon posted a 2.88 ERA with 12 strikeouts per 9 over 178 innings this past season, a career-high at 29 years old. He is seeking a deal in the 5–6 year range worth around $30 million per season. His services would give the Bombers arguably the best rotation in baseball, and with the inclusion of Judge, they have the talent to be an extremely competitive team moving forward for years to come.

If Cashman also manages to either retain Andrew Benintendi or sign Masataka Yoshida or Michael Conforto to fill the vacant left field spot, they will have plenty of high on-base percentage batters to maximize Judge’s skillset — hit strikes hard.