New York Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner may believe that Aaron Judge prefers to stay in the Bronx, but he will have to fend off tough competition from the Los Angeles Dodgers, who non-tendered Cody Bellinger and cleared $100 million off the books this past week and are now turning their sights toward Judge’s signature.
The Dodgers know that if they acquire Judge, they will be in a prime position to win a World Series, given their unbelievable offensive qualities. Adding him as a catalyst would take their offense to another level, so expect them to compete with the Yanks for Judge’s signature.
“I’ve absolutely conveyed that I want him to be a Yankee for the rest of his life,” Steinbrenner said at the MLB owners meetings in New York on Tuesday. “No doubt about that. He knows that.”
Judge broke a number of historical records this past season with the Bombers, enjoying every step of the way. He hit .311 with a 42.5% on-base rate, including 62 homers and 131 RBIs. There’s no doubt he’s played some of the best baseball in the history of the game donning the pinstripes — ending that relationship prematurely may not be in his best interest. That is exactly what Steinbrenner is hoping for.
“I do believe [Judge] wants to be a Yankee,” Steinbrenner said. “I think we’ve got a good thing going here.”
The Yankees will need to fend of the Dodgers and all their money for Aaron Judge:
Nonetheless, the Dodgers are going to make a run at the superstar slugger after offloading Ballinger following two disappointing seasons. The Dodgers had a payroll of $280.6 million this past season and currently only have $185.5 million in projected total payroll after arbitration.
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This means that the Bombers have significantly less money to spend than Los Angeles, but they have plenty to sign Judge on an extension.
The problem is, if the Yankees plan to stop their spending around their 2022 total payroll of about $260 million, they won’t be able to continue adding high-end pieces that promote their World Series aspirations. The Dodgers, on the other hand, can continue to add stars to the roster and feel good about their future, which may be more enticing for Judge, who is also focused on winning.
There’s a very real possibility that Aaron decides to take his talents west, but Steinbrenner is keen on making him a substantial offer. If the Dodgers can match, he may see Los Angeles as a better option to win now and enjoy sustained success.