Another week of dominance for the New York Yankees and another week where Aaron Judge is playing like the best player in baseball. Last night, the Yanks defeated the Baltimore Orioles and Aaron Judge was once again on fire.
After getting the night off on Monday, Judge torched the O’s for two bombs last night. It should have been three home runs if it wasn’t for the monstrosity of a ballpark in Baltimore. Judge’s first inning double would’ve been a home run in 29 out of 30 ballparks.
However, due to Baltimore moving their left field wall back to fit unrealistic proportions, Judge missed a homer by inches. The Yankees superstar would still get two homers to bring his major league leading total to 14, but he should’ve woke up this morning with 15 homers in the bag.
Judge is off to arguably the best start of his career in the most important season of his career with the Yankees. Last week, I wrote about how Judge bet on himself and as a result, the Yankees were really going to have to pay up.
Well, a week later, nothing has changed and it still feels like the price tag is going up. Before the season, Judge and his reps rejected an extension offer from New York that would’ve been for seven years and $213.5 million. An AAV of $30.5 million.
Judge’s 2022 Gamble
At the time, it was a risky move by Judge to decline the deal from the Yankees. Sure, Judge is one of the best players in baseball when healthy, but health has been a concern. In his previous five seasons, three of them had significants stints where Judge was hurt and missed time.
His production when on the field has never been in question. Questions only surrounded his health. Right now, the 30-year old slugger is healthy and he’s playing at the highest level of his entire career.
In addition to his gold-glove level defense, Judge is slashing .315/.384/.692 and has an OPS of 1.076. He’s leading the league in homers, he’s third in RBIs and third in OPS. Simply put, the Yankees superstar is showing just how special he is.
After Judge rejected the deal, it was leaked that he was seeking Mike Trout money for an extension. Trout’s extension with the Angels gave him an AAV of $36 million which is the same AAV and Yankees ace Gerrit Cole.
Now, I personally believe that if the Yankees upped the years on the deal they were offering, they might’ve gotten a deal done. I think Judge and his team wanted to see a contract where the total number started with a three instead of a two.
I’ve seen some concern from fans that this situation is like the Robinson Cano situation. However, to me, this is much different. When Robinson Cano was entering free agency, he was the best player on the team.
However, he wasn’t the face of the franchise for the Yankees. Derek Jeter played through the entirety of Cano’s time with New York. Because of that, Robbie Cano was never the face of the franchise. While his production was insanely good, his overall value wasn’t as high because of that. Aaron Judge is the face of the franchise.
Aaron Judge is more valuable to New York than he is to any other team in baseball. Sure, teams will want to line up and pay Judge for his on-field production. However, it’s the entire package of Judge and what he means to New York that makes him so valuable to the Yankees.
Simply put, they can’t let him walk and have to get a deal done before he fields other offers. So, what would a new deal potentially look like? Well, they can’t make the Cano mistake. If Judge wants a deal to keep him in New York for the entirety of his career, you make it happen.
If I was running the show, I would front-load the contract. Perhaps you start with 10 years at $300 million. For years 1-5, you give Judge the $36 million a year that he’s seeking. Then give him an opt out. If he opts in, years 6-10 would pay him $24 million to finish his career.
Yes, $24 million might be a lot for the end of his career, but it’s worth it to keep the face of the franchise in a Yankees uniform for the rest of his career. I’m not even sure that would get it done at this point, but that’s where I would start.
What do you all think? If you’re Brian Cashman and Hal Steinbrenner, what kind of offer do you give to Judge? Sound off in the comments!