Yankees have their No. 1 target in mind if they lose out on Aaron Judge

xander Bogaerts, yankees
Jul 9, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts (2) rounds third base during the second inning against the New York Yankees at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees are confident in their ability to extend Aaron Judge on a monster contract, but there is still a possibility he walks having just met with the San Francisco Giants. The Giants are also keen on presenting him with a substantial offer, but it may not match the Yankees reported 8-year, $300 million deal they have on the table.

If Judge ends up walking, the Yankees have to have a backup plan in mind, and stealing a star infielder from the Boston Red Sox is always ideal. Xander Bogaerts has hit free agency after spending the first 10 years of his career with Boston, and it seems as if he doesn’t want to return.

“I think the versatility of Bogaerts and (Trea) Turner make them more attractive for the Yankees,” Olney said. “And I think that Bogaerts, because he’s going to be less expensive than Turner, it wouldn’t shock me, if they don’t sign Judge, I think he becomes their No. 1 target.”

Per “Baseball Isn’t Boring” podcast with WEEI’s Rob Bradford, ESPN’s Buster Olney.

The Yankees could lock down the infield for a long time with Xander Bogaets:

Bogaerts hit .307 with a 37.7% on-base rate and a .456 slugging percentage this past season. Over 150 games, he tallied a 9% walk rate, 18.7% strikeout rate, 15 homers, and 73 RBIs. He stole eight bases, down from his career high of 15 back in 2017. Increasing his aggressiveness on the base paths could lead to a major uptick in efficiency.

Defensively, Bogaerts is extremely versatile, predominantly playing shortstop with Boston but projects to potentially move in the future. He played 1249.2 innings at shortstop this past season, accruing a .983 fielding percentage with 10 errors and 74 double plays turned. His four defensive runs saved by average and five outs above average or some of the best in his career. Having a rock-solid SS is a reality the Bombers haven’t experienced since Derek Jeter.

The Yankees do have Oswald Peraza and Anthony Volpe expected to compete for the starting shortstop job next year, but finding a veteran with extraordinary offensive qualities is not a bad move. Eventually, he could transition over to the hot corner, with Volpe taking over full-time and Peraza potentially sliding over to second base.

Luckily for the Yankees, Judge is still on the board, and the probabilities favor them, but having other targets in mind is justifiable.

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