No one could have predicted that Aaron Judge’s contract season would include 62 home runs and enough memories for Yankees fans to discuss for seven lifetimes. I’d be interested to see how non-New York fans would react if Judge’s historic season came in a different outfit.
As easy as it would be to write off the transition, “And maybe we’ll find out next year when he signs with a different team,” I’m not going to because the chances of him repeating this season are slim, slim, tiny, slim, slim — whatever better states “It won’t happen”.
Name a stat related to hitting and Judge probably led the league in it this season. I’ve been watching his performance all year not because I care about Roger Maris’ record or the Yankees, but because I thought it was hysterical that the team notorious for its deepest pockets would field its best player and MVP.
While there are some questions about his durability, any other concerns for the front office were gradually dissipated with each ball that disappeared into the stands. I’m not even that big by baseball fan standards, and it’s crazy to me that the Brinks truck hasn’t made a delivery to Judge’s residence yet.
Who will sign Aaron Judge?
There have been reports that the The Giants are poised to outbid the Yankees’ offer. Judge is from California and grew up a San Francisco Giants fan, so there’s a chance he could be swayed for the right price.
If it’s not the Giants, there is a market, albeit a limited one, for a 30-year-old player coming that year. While not every team can afford to sign a ten-year, $300 million deal, the Mets can — and that would be the biggest blow to the Yankee persona.
Perhaps Brian Cashman relies on prestige to make up for the money they’re reluctant to pay Judge, which would be the height of Yankee arrogance amid a World Series drought. For stars, a big part of New York’s allure is the comfort of knowing they’ll be taken care of financially. Being overpaid has long been a perk of being a Yankee.
I’m guessing he re-signs at a huge number and relegates this column to the same level of handshake currently reserved for the Judge and Shohei Ohtani MVP argument. (You don’t break the 60-homer mark for the first “legitimate” time since 1961 and you lose the MVP. Records are too important for baseball writers to overlook.)
World Series titles and bad contracts: This is what the Yankees do! (He made;)
The other upside to playing in the Bronx is winning championships, something the Yankees haven’t done since 2009. For another franchise, 13 years is far from clear. Blame the Astros, blame bad luck, blame bad management, blame ownership, or just blame the fact that it’s really hard to do.
Be that as it may, New York is not far. The reason the Yankees of my youth were perennial contenders is that they had a core group of homegrown talent surrounded by the best infrastructure money could buy. Punting on Judge is contrary to the club’s most recent success. If this kind of deal will bring the team’s budget to its knees, I have a myriad of questions about the team’s finances.
Yes, I’ve laughed nonstop at Judge’s contract season to end all contract seasons. The reality was that the Yankees were picking on bad contracts like the protagonist in an action movie shrugs off flesh wounds. “So what?” it was once the collective response to criticisms leveled at vulgar contracts.
If this were to happen at the start of the decade, Judge would be on a lifetime deal and Yankee haters would already be mourning Ohtani’s inevitable move to New York, along with the usual rage about salary disparity.
In 2022, the Dodgers and Mets have more money on the books than the Yankees’ $264 million, and the Phillies—the Phillies! — just $10 million away from that. I could understand the mockery of an all-time season if No. 99 wasn’t single-handedly responsible for a large portion of the team’s 99 wins. This is not a Mike Trout scenario where the numbers are hollow.
Replacing the stats of an MVP with an amalgamation of position players is what Brad Pitt does in one Moneyballso it’s disturbing (as well as hilarious) to see the Evil Empire going through every credit and thinking of the same move.
What’s funnier: The Yankees are so strapped for cash that paying Judge risks jeopardizing what were previously thought to be bottomless coffers, or Judge signing with San Francisco a year after making New York fans cry happy;