One way or another, the New York Yankees will need to offer up a significant contract for superstar slugger Aaron Judge. The question is, how long can the Yankees wait before a massive bidding war spreads to the West Coast teams and the Yanks find themselves paying over the premium for one of the best players in the game?
The San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers are reportedly intrigued by Judge and will make a serious run at acquiring his signature, but the Yankees will have their opportunity to retain the 30-year-old outfielder coming off of the best season in the history of the game.
Judge hit .311 with a .425 on-base rate, .686 slugging percentage, 62 homers, and 131 RBIs this past season. He struggled considerably during the playoffs, but the Yankees might’ve missed the postseason altogether if not for his contributions during the regular season.
The Bombers simply can’t replicate Judge’s production with one player; they would need to spread out their money between several if they end up losing him. Clearly, other teams are willing to cough up the cash, notably the Giants, who seem to be gearing up an aggressive package.
San Francisco’s baseball president Farhan Zaidi indicated that there was no player out of their financial reach this off-season, meaning the Giants could look to bolster their World Series odds in 2023 with Judge at the helm.
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The Yankees need to flex their financial muscle for Aaron Judge:
If general manager Brian Cashman wants to maintain his team’s legitimacy, he needs to act fast instead of letting the market develop for Judge, where another team will undoubtedly be willing to up the ante.
Cashman has a sizable payroll to work with right now, sitting at $135 million in active total payroll before arbitration. The estimated arbitration salaries give the team a projected $182.3 million payroll. In 2022, their payroll sat at $264.9 million, so they have a sizable chunk of change to spend moving forward, of which Judge will likely take up a significant portion.
Realistically, Cashman want to retain Judge, Anthony Rizzo, and potentially add another quality player, which could cost a combined $75+ million. The team has the financial flexibility to get it all done, but owner Hal Steinbrenner has been a bit more conservative with his cash expenditures in recent years.
Notably, he refused to spend on a short-stop this past off-season, a position that ended up becoming a vulnerability down the stretch, specifically in the playoffs. If the Yankees can figure out a contract extension for Judge soon, it will give them time to strategize more efficiently around the offseason, ensuring they retain their best player in the process.