When Yankees general manager Brian Cashman struck out trying to extend star slugger Aaron Judge before the 2022 season began, he knew he would have to battle other teams in free agency next off-season.
Judge bet on himself, turning down a seven-year deal worth $30.5 million per season. Most would agree that turning down that type of money is ludicrous, but Judge knew he would have a record setting campaign that would propel him to one of the biggest contracts in Major League Baseball.
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Review Judge’s insane performance this season so far:
Currently, Judge is hitting .311 with 22 homers and 45 RBIs. He hosts a 25.8% strikeout rate, 11% walk rate, and 38.3% on-base percentage. His 62.4% hard-hit and 26.2% barrel rates are the highest in his career, and he’s averaging a 96.1 mph exit velocity.
Overall, it seems as if Judge has made the right decision to bet on himself and look for big money this upcoming free agency.
However, Cashman will have competition from several teams, notably the San Francisco Giants, according to Jon Heyman of MLB Network.
“I do think the Yankees look at it that way, that the Giants are the team they need to beat,” Heyman said on his weekly podcast with Joel Sherman. Sherman called the Giants a potential “stalking horse.”
The Giants are the third-best team in the NL West with a 30–25 record, 5.5 games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers. With an incredible atmosphere and awesome stadium, convincing Judge to move out to San Francisco wouldn’t be much of a problem. It ultimately boils down to money and if the Yankees are willing to pay upward of $35 million per season to lock him down for the next decade.
“I would just throw in the towel and give him the $36 million,” Heyman said on his podcast. “I’d add seven years … I’d make that offer and see how that goes. At this point, it’s really hard to argue that he should get less than $36 million.”
Mike Trout is earning $37 million per year on a $426.5 million extension over 12 years — the Yankees can feel confident paying Aaron despite having some injury issues in the past. Last season, he played in 148 games, and if he’s able to replicate that number, he will have played over 102 games in five of six full seasons.
If the Yankees manage to win a World Series this year thanks to Judge and his immaculate performance, Cashman will have no choice but to pay him whatever he desires. That might be in the team’s best interest, even if he’s taking up over 14.5% of the team’s total payroll.