The New York Yankees have been rather conservative this off-season with their spending, and that might be partly due to the massive contract extension coming up for slugger Aaron Judge.
There were concerns over Judge’s health in previous years, but after playing in 148 games, hitting. 287 with 39 Homer and 98 RBIs, most of those negative connotations have alleviated. Recording a 5.5 WAR and 37.5 offensive WAR last year, Judge shifted to centerfield for small portions of the second half of the 2021 season, allowing Joey Gallo to take over in right field after being acquired at the trade deadline.
Considering the Yankees have carved out a section in Yankee Stadium honoring his capabilities, it is fair to assume that management has a long-term extension in mind. Judge is incredibly optimistic that the two sides will get a deal done, which is why Cashman could be waiting to see what Judge’s deal looks like before signing additional long-term contracts.
“If we’re able to talk and get something done in Spring Training before the season starts, that would be ideal,” Judge said on March 15. “This is an important year, just like every year is an important year. We’ve got a lot of things to focus on during the year — winning the division, winning the championship here in New York. I don’t want contract extensions or all that stuff to be a distraction throughout the year.”
Management has the intent to retain Judge for the long term, and he will likely earn above $25-30 million per season.
“Our intent would be, we’d like to have him back if we can,” general manager Brian Cashman said earlier this spring. “Like everything else, just like trades and free agency, you have to be on the same page and common ground. The only way to find out is to have some conversations, first and foremost. Those will happen, and we’ll try to keep it as private as we can. … We’re happy he’s a Yankee, and it’d be great if we could make him a Yankee longer.”
Featuring one of the best outfield arms in baseball and elite power-hitting, Judge has plenty of time left at the top of his game. At just 29 years old, the 6’7″, 282-pound All-Star star is hoping to lower his strikeout rate, which was the lowest it has ever been last year at 25%, increasing his contact abilities but maintaining absolute power.