Yankees News: Aaron Judge opens up about possibility of leaving Bombers

New York Yankees, NYY, Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez
Aug 28, 2019; Seattle, WA, USA; New York Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge (99) celebrates with catcher Gary Sanchez (24) after hitting a two run home run against the Seattle Mariners during the fifth inning at T-Mobile Park. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge is preparing to turn 30 years old in just a few months, hitting free agency for the first time in his lengthy professional career. Allowing players to test the open market earlier is part of the MLBPA’s economic gripe with the owners, playing a significant part in holding back spring training and the start of the regular season in a timely fashion.

Judge is coming off one of his best campaigns to date, hitting .287 with 39 homers and 98 RBIs over 148 games. Consistent health has been one of the more prominent factors in deciding on Judge’s future with a team, which will undoubtedly include nine figures.

The Yankees can’t continue to invest in sluggers who sustain regular injuries and fail to contribute in big moments. Judge put to rest a lot of those concerns in 2021, putting himself in a prime position to land a lucrative extension.

Before the lockout, teams were spending massive amounts to acquire talent in fear of economic reform, but the Yankees are taking a more silent and observant approach towards their spending. The expectation is they will be aggressive coming out of the lockout, but there’s no guarantee they will splash the cash Judge is looking for on the open market.

Aaron Judge spoke on CC Sabathia’s R2C2 podcast, indicating he could bid farewell to the Yankees if they don’t come to an agreement on an extension:

“You know, leading into this, especially coming up through the minor leagues and rookie ball, you want to be a free agent, test the market a little bit and see what’s out there. But that’s one thing, I’ve been lucky enough to play in the best organization out of all of them, so who wants to go anywhere else? If we get an extension done before the season starts, that’d be great. I’d be completely honored to wear pinstripes for a couple more years. But if it doesn’t happen and this is my last year [as a Yankee], I had a lot of great memories.”

There’s always the possibility that Aaron decides to take his talents elsewhere, and there will be a number of clubs to reach out regarding his services if the Yankees pass. However, considering Yankee Stadium has a section carved out in his honor, the idea of him wearing anything but pinstripes leaves a sour taste in your mouth.

Cashman doesn’t normally extend players before they hit free agency, so expect him to wait as long as possible before offering Judge a big deal. They still have him under arbitration until after the 2022 season, providing a larger sample size of health consistency.

If he can replicate his statistics from 2021, the Yankees may not have a choice but to open the checkbook for the star outfielder. With a decreased strikeout rate and phenomenal wRC+ (45% above average), letting Judge walk could bite them in the butt down the line. Nonetheless, we’ve seen big names squander opportunities in New York before, but Aaron has proven he’s capable of succeeding in one of the most hostile markets in America.