The New York Yankees would be a shell of themselves without star slugger Aaron Judge, who’s having an MVP-caliber season at the age of 30. Prior to the 2022 campaign, the Yankees offered Judge $30.5 million per season over seven years, which he graciously declined, taking a big risk on himself.
Judge has had his fair share of injury problems in the past, but he alleviated most of those concerns last year, featuring in 148 total games. The 6’7″, 282-pound power hitter batted .287 last season with a 37.3% on-base rate and .544 slugging percentage. However, he’s taking those numbers to another level this season, hitting .293 with a 36.8% on base rate and .638 slugging percentage.
To go with those incredible numbers, he’s launched 28 homers and collected 57 RBIs on a 24.6% strikeout rate, the lowest in his entire career. Judge is on pace for over 60 homers this season and has two walk-off hits in his last five games, both of them coming against the Houston Astros.
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How can the Yankees properly evaluate Aaron Judge’s value?
There is no numerical value to gauge Judge’s value to the team, but general manager Brian Cashman and owner Hal Steinbrenner better be ready to open up the checkbook.
However, according to Michael Kay, the Yankees aren’t going to overpay Judge, who is seemingly deserving of every penny.
Michael Kay on the Rich Eisen Show: "The #Yankees will not overpay for Aaron Judge, Based on what I've been hearing around Aaron Judge wants to be the highest paid position player, and would want $36M+ a year"
— Arby???? (@ABeltran1993) June 28, 2022
Similar to how the Yankees approached DJ LeMahieu’s contract last season, it seems as if they are lowballing Judge in hopes of settling on a more friendly deal. The only problem is that Judge has other suitors who would be more than willing to drop an exorbitant amount of cash to acquire his services.
Plenty of teams have already been thrown into the mix as potential free agent landing spots, notably the New York Mets and San Francisco Giants. Luckily for the Bombers, Judge has already indicated he wants to remain in pinstripes and loves playing in the Bronx.
If ownership is going to play a game of cat and mouse with Judge regarding his contract situation, they could end up losing out. Judge’s representatives aggressively declined Cashman’s offer just before the start of the regular season after he made the numbers public.
Things will likely operate a bit more low-key moving forward, but Judge wants upwards of $36 million per season, which would make him one of the highest-paid players in baseball. The question is, how many years does he want? At 30 years old, a 10-year contract would undoubtedly bite the Yankees in the butt down the road. A reasonable ‘out’ built into the deal should be a necessity.