New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman took an incredibly risky approach with Aaron Judge’s contract extension this past off-season. The Bombers offered him seven years and $213.5 million to stick around for the foreseeable future. Judge’s representatives declined, looking to capitalize on a dominant 2022 season.
After 36 games of action, Cashman is likely pounding his fist on the table, watching Judge’s numbers increase daily. He currently hosts a .307 average with 14 homers and 30 RBIs. His 38.1% on-base percentage is one of the best on the team, and he’s striking out at just 26.3%, below his career average.
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The Yankees are seeing the best of Aaron Judge:
At 30 years old, Judge hasn’t lost an ounce of power either, recording a 65.3% hard-hit rate and 27.6% barrel rate. His average exit velocity is the highest in his career at 97 mph. Judge ranks in the 97th percentile or better in seven advanced batting metrics, including average exit velocity, barrel rate, batting average, and hard-hit rate. His whiff rate has evened out at average, meaning he’s seeing pitches extremely well.
Against fastballs, Judge is hitting .305 this season, but against breaking balls, he’s hitting .400. Opposing pitchers are desperately trying to figure out how to attack Aaron. He’s experienced a slight increase in fastball usage, which has done absolutely nothing against one of baseball’s best hitters.
However, the open market will have a chance to jump on Judge this upcoming off-season. The Yankees will have their hand in the mix, undoubtedly. I wouldn’t rule out the crosstown rival Mets as a prospective buyer.
According to Kiley McDaniel of ESPN, the Mets have routinely come up among MLB executives discussing where Judge could land in free agency:
Mets owner Steve Cohen. He came up in every conversation I had with execs about Judge — partly because the Mets could stand to upgrade their outfield, but mostly because he becomes the Kool-Aid Man when a cost control is put in front of him.
The Mets could be a real competition in the market:
With Mets owner, Steve Cohen sitting atop a mountain of cash, stealing Judge away from the Yankees would make him the most loved person on Long Island.
There is reason to believe that Judge could find his contract approaching $300 million over eight seasons. Given his deal with expire at nearly 40 years old, there’s a legitimate possibility that Cashman lets him walk.
With the league slowly moving away from behemoth contracts for players over 30, there’s a real possibility Cashman sets a price limit. Over in Queens, Cohen could be licking his chops, preparing to make Juge a very rich man.