The Yankees finally do what was considered inevitable after his 9 year $360 million extension. In the press conference making the Aaron Judge contract official, they also announce that Judge is the next captain of the franchise. He joins the likes of Thurman Munson, Lou Gehrig, Don Mattingly, and Derek Jeter as not just the face of the franchise, but the leader of this team. We’ve heard multiple reports from many of his teammates about his stoic leadership, with his presence in the clubhouse being revered. He’s handled himself in a manner that is remarkably impressive when you consider the franchise and market he plays in, and he’s as deserving of this owner as it gets.
Aaron Judge is Among Yankee Greats
Aaron Judge now cements his legacy in the Bronx forever. He’s going to forever be able to call himself a captain of the Yankees, the first captain since Derek Jeter donned the iconic pinstripes in 2014. Judge is as deserving of the honor as it gets, being not just one of the leaders of this team, but one of the best players the franchise has ever developed. Among all Yankees with 3,000 Plate Appearances, Judge ranks as one of the greatest to ever play for the Yankees:
- 163 wRC+ (4th)
- .582 SLG% (3rd)
- .394 OBP (9th)
- .299 ISO (2nd)
- .977 OPS (5th)
The Yankees are a team in need of leadership with the amount of young talent on the way, and Aaron Judge is perfect to lead this team. Anthony Volpe, Oswald Peraza, Oswaldo Cabrera, and many others will get to look to Judge as the leader of this ballclub, and as someone who knows the ups-and-downs of a regular and postseason journey. While he hasn’t won a World Series with the Yankees, Don Mattingly hadn’t either when he was named captain. When you have a leader and a talent like Judge, you name them captain; no if ands or buts.
He can add this to his already growing resume, which continues to grow by the year. His path to the Hall of Fame is clear as day, and his iconic #99 will be hanging in the rafters one day. While the mission statement is to win a World Series, it’s certainly a massive win for the organization to have drafted, developed, and retained a talent like Judge. The character is just as great as the player, and that’s high praise considering he holds the American League record for HRs in a single season.
The Yankees Can Finally Look Forward
The entire offseason has been circling around the uncertainty regarding a plethora of topics related to Aaron Judge. How much he would ask for, whether he would come back, and whether he would be captain was just a small portion of a laundry list of questions. They can finally put all the major ones to bed, and they can focus entirely on the rest of their offseason. It’s more than just an on-the-field thing to retain Judge, who obviously is a massive reason why the Yankees won the AL East last year. Bringing back Judge might have swayed Carlos Rodón in coming to New York as well.
Having stability in the locker room as the Yankees once again shake things up with the roster is important. The departures of IKF, Donaldson, and Hicks seem very likely, and Gleyber Torres could also join that short list. There are plenty of newcomers and prospects on the way as well, and this gives them a face of their franchise to turn to as a guiding presence for this team. He’s no longer the big-eyed rookie he was in 2017, he’s grown into the leader we’ve been missing since Derek Jeter finally hung his cleats up.
It’s now go-time for the Yankees, and they do so with the most iconic player in the city as their leader for the rest of his career.