Future of Aaron Judge, Boone at stake after Yankees’ colossal debacle

Aaron Judge with manager Aaron Boone
John Allen
Monday October 24, 2022

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NEW YORK — The future of Aaron Judge is not completely clear. There is still some doubt as to whether the Yankees will sign him after his playoff record this year.

Judge’s time in pinstripes may have ended when he made the last out in the Yankees’ 6-5 loss to the Houston Astros on Sunday night. The Astros triumphed in Game 4 after the Yankees’ defense fell apart again and won the ALCS 4-0.

In the days before the season started, Judge turned down a seven-year deal that would have paid him $213.5 million from 2023 to 2029. Instead, he chose to wait until after the World Series to sign a free-agent deal.

He hit 62 home runs, which was an American League record. He also had 131 RBIs, which tied for the most in the major leagues, and he was second in the AL with a .311 batting average. But in the playoffs, he hit just .139 with three RBIs and 15 strikeouts. Against the Astros, he went 1 for 16 (.063) with no RBIs. He got the last out when the ball came back to him.

Aaron Judge’s performance forced the Yankees fans to criticize and boo him too.

During the post-game press meet in the quiet clubhouse, Aaron Judge told:

“Getting a chance to wear the pinstripes and play right field at Yankee Stadium, it’s an incredible honor that I definitely didn’t take for granted at any point. I always check myself pregame and I say a little prayer and I kind of look around the stadium and I kind of pinch myself.”

“Very few individuals get a chance to run on that field and do that and play in front of the fans that support us throughout my whole six years here, he added. It was a special time, and I just kick myself for not bringing home that championship for them.”

Starting on the sixth day after the World Series, Judge was able to talk to all of the teams. Because he bet on himself, he should get a big reward. He could get a contract worth more than $300 million.

Last October, Boone signed a three-year deal with a team option for 2025. In his fifth year as manager, New York had a 61–23 record by the beginning of July, which made people think of the 1998 Yankees championship team. But because of injuries, the Yankees only won 38 of the next 40 games. Boone is facing criticism for his choice and strategy.

“Man, it’s baseball. I mean, even the greatest people go through hard times sometimes,” Boone told reporters, “It’s a game where you lose. You’ll have some good times and some bad times.”

“It’s been a terrible day, and now it’s over. It affects. It hurts,” continued Boone, “We were missing some important people who, in my opinion, could have made a big difference for us.”

Cleveland forced the Division Series to go to five games, and Boone’s decisions about who should pitch and who should play in the outfield were questioned many times. After he put in Nestor Cortes on the mound in Game 4 and the All-Star left-hander let Jeremy Pena hit a three-run homer, the debate only turned worse. Boone then took Cortes out of the game, and the Yankees said that the left-handed pitcher had hurt his left groin again.

In the playoffs, New York’s defense was always a problem. They made six mistakes and failed in other ways as well. In nine postseason games, the Yankees hit .173 and struck out 103 times. They hit .162 against the Astros. Jose Trevino went 0 for 11, Oswaldo Cabrera went 0 for 9, and Josh Donaldson was 1 for 13.

New York hasn’t won the World Series since 2009. In the offseason, pitcher Jameson Taillon, outfielder Andrew Benintendi, utility players Matt Carpenter and Marwin Gonzalez, and relievers Chad Green, Miguel Castro, Zack Britton, and Aroldis Chapman can all sign with other teams.

Anthony Rizzo can opt out and give up a $16 million salary for next season, and the Yankees are likely to use a $15 million option on pitcher Luis Severino instead of paying a $2.75 million buyout.

The general manager since 1998, Brian Cashman, is coming to the end of his five-year contract. In recent years, he has been trying to change the team’s lineup in order to make the lineup less right-handed and improve the defense. The process started with Gleyber Torres in September 2021 and led to catcher Gary Sánchez’s trade. It continued when center fielder Harrison Bader, who hit.333 with five home runs in the playoffs, was brought in August.

What do you think — should the Yankees part way with Judge and Boone?

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