Yankees News: Aaron Judge mega-deal update, perfect starting pitcher to trade for to bolster rotation

New York Yankees, Aaron Judge

The New York Yankees are dangerously close to passing the third luxury tax threshold instituted by the new CBA agreement. With approximately $252 million spent, management is trying to choose their battles carefully considering the monster contract upcoming for star outfielder Aaron Judge.

Judge is coming off a dominant campaign in 2021, hitting .287 with 39 homers and 98 RBIs. His best campaign came back in 2017 when he smashed 52 homers and 114 RBIs but featured a 30.7% strikeout rate. Judge’s strikeout rate has decreased to 25%, and if he can maintain his incredible home run hitting abilities, his worth will only be more valuable as time continues.

At 29 years old, the Yankees have one year left of service time for Judge before he hits free agency, giving them some cushion to collaborate on a big extension.

“Judge is a very special player right, and a great Yankee,” said Hal Steinbrenner, the team’s managing general partner. “We will be having conversations, I have no doubt, in the weeks to come. [There’s] not as much time per usual to figure out the needs we have, to figure out how to address them. My directive to [Brian Cashman] when the lockout ended was, ‘Let’s focus on the needs; we’ve got Aaron this year, so let’s focus on the needs and who we need to bring in to make this team better.’”

The Yankees have intentions of signing Judge to a massive contract that could reach $30 million per season, considering his strengths both offensively and defensively. Aside from the fact the Yankees have already built a section in the outfield in his honor, retaining him seems obvious.

“Our intent would be — we’d like to have him back if we can,” Cashman said Monday. “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.”

The Bombers have stopped themselves from overspending this off-season on players like Carlos Correa or Freddie Freeman, taking a more cost-efficient route. They must have Judge’s salary in mind, which is why they are treading water during free agency 2.0.

The Yankees have an opportunity to trade for a starting pitcher from the Oakland Athletics:

Reports on Wednesday indicated that the Athletics aren’t done executing deals to cash in on quality players. The Yankees and a myriad of other teams have connected with them in regard to pitchers Sean Manaea and Frankie Montas.

Montas offers great potential for the Yankees, given his strengths as a fastball thrower. Last season, Montas finally breached the 100 inning benchmark, recording 187, picking up 13 wins at 28 years old. He posted a 3.37 ERA with 9.96 strikeouts per nine and a 74.5% left on base rate.

The Athletic starter throws his fastball an average of 96.8 mph, landing at 96.6 for the 2021 season. His velocity has dropped off of it since early in his career when he was hitting 98.2, but he still has the strength and power to fit the Yankees’ mold perfectly. Placing him behind Gerrit Cole will give the Yankees a phenomenal one-two punch at the top of the rotation, taking some pressure off the back end for players like Nestor Cortes, who might fit better in a relief role.

However, general manager Brian Cashman is going to have to be aggressive to acquire Montas, and he must be willing to part ways with some prospects.