Last Updated on September 25, 2023 at 12:43 am by Amanda Cunha
After the New York Yankees failed to qualify for the playoffs, Aaron Judge expressed disappointment with the team’s performance this year. Judge labeled the season a “failure,” which echoed his sentiments from past years when the Yankees fell short of winning the World Series.
Judge stated emphatically, “We’ve got a lot to work on, a lot of things to change, and a lot of stuff going on around here that needs to be fixed.”
A record-breaking deal in 2022
The backdrop of Judge’s disappointment this season was his remarkable contract extension signed in 2022. The star player, the American League MVP the previous year, inked a historic nine-year deal worth a staggering $360 million—a record-breaking contract that made headlines across the baseball world.
Highest-paid position player in the league
Judge’s contract, which pays him around $40 million annually, catapults him to the position of the highest-paid position player in Major League Baseball. While his earnings are substantial, they do not quite match the eye-popping contracts of the league’s top earners.
Nonetheless, $40 million per year is a considerable sum, especially when compared to the average MLB salary of $4.4 million for the previous season. Judge’s financial success extends beyond the baseball diamond, as he boasts the most endorsements of any professional athlete in 2021, with brands like Jordan, Hulu, and Pepsi capitalizing on his star power.
Despite his commitment to the Yankees and the potential boost to the team’s future success, there are inherent risks in Judge’s long-term contract. The slugger will turn 33 in April of 2023, an age that some view as precarious in a sport where the average retirement age hovers around 29½. Typically, players experience a decline in performance as they enter their 30s.
Last week, Aaron Judge achieved a remarkable feat by breaking two records in a single game while playing for the Yankees. Some observers might argue that the Yankees experienced a phenomenon akin to “Judge dependency.” This term emerged during the middle of the season when the team temporarily lost its captain, and their performance noticeably declined, highlighting Judge’s pivotal role in the league.
Yankees manager Aaron Boone responds
Reacting to the Yankees’ official elimination from the playoff race, Manager Aaron Boone expressed his disappointment, emphasizing the dedication and hard work that go into a season. He succinctly stated, “It sucks. That’s what you work hard towards all year round… the reality of that not being in play sucks.”
As the 2023 season nears its conclusion, the New York Yankees find themselves out of the playoff picture, while Aaron Judge’s resolve to bring a championship to the Bronx remains unwavering.
What happened with the Yankees?
The final blow came on a gloomy Sunday afternoon in the Bronx, as the Arizona Diamondbacks handed the Yankees a decisive 7-1 defeat. With that loss, the Yankees’ hopes of October baseball were dashed, leaving them with a disappointing 78-77 record for the 2023 season. The Bronx Bombers were now tasked with trying to salvage what remained of their season, hoping to avoid their first losing campaign since 1992.
For Yankees fans, the news was nothing short of devastating. The season had begun with high hopes and lofty expectations, fueled by the re-signing of Aaron Judge to a historic nine-year, $360-million contract. Judge had even been named the team’s captain, a position previously held by the legendary Derek Jeter. However, the optimism quickly gave way to disappointment as the Yankees struggled to find consistency and suffered from a lack of offensive firepower.
The cracks in the roster’s construction became glaringly apparent during the postseason, but the front office’s decision to trust in the existing team proved to be a costly mistake. It was a season of missed opportunities and unfulfilled potential, leaving fans wondering what went wrong and what changes were needed to right the ship.
What’s going to happen with the Yankees?
As the Yankees faced the prospect of an offseason overhaul, the landscape of the free-agent market presented its own set of challenges. While Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels and Cody Bellinger of the Chicago Cubs were attractive options, the competition for their services was expected to be fierce. The Yankees’ commitment to analytics meant that they needed to carefully evaluate a player’s advanced statistics, such as average exit velocity, barrel rate, and hard-hit percentage, to make informed decisions.
Two players who had underperformed and were under scrutiny were Giancarlo Stanton and Carlos Rodón. Stanton’s struggles were evident, and the Yankees had to weigh the cost of keeping him in the lineup against his declining performance. On the other hand, Rodón, who had signed a substantial contract, needed to prove that he could bounce back from injury and regain his effectiveness.
The offseason ahead promised to be a critical one for the Yankees. Owner Hal Steinbrenner had expressed his dissatisfaction with the season’s outcome, vowing to assess the entire baseball operations system. While it was unlikely that general manager Brian Cashman would lose his job, the front office, especially the analytics department, would come under close scrutiny. The team’s medical apparatus, which had undergone changes in 2020 but still saw frequent injuries, would also face examination.
Manager Aaron Boone found himself in a precarious position as well. While the team’s struggles were not solely his fault, Boone’s contract was set to expire, making it easier for the Yankees to consider a change in leadership. The dismal season had eroded the justification for extending Boone’s contract, and his future with the team was uncertain.
The challenge ahead: Balancing youth and experience
Looking ahead, the Yankees knew that significant changes were in order. Their pitching staff needed reinforcements beyond Gerrit Cole, with question marks surrounding Carlos Rodón’s health and the viability of other starters like Nestor Cortes, Michael King, and Clarke Schmidt. The Yankees had been scouting Japanese right-hander Yoshinobu Yamamoto, who was expected to command a hefty contract in the offseason. The challenge would be whether the Yankees could compete for his services or explore creative avenues to acquire established talent domestically.
One glaring issue that had plagued the Yankees for years was their inability to hit right-handed pitching, especially high-velocity fastballs. Their struggles against righties had been a constant concern, and addressing this weakness would be essential to improving their overall performance.
As the sun set on the 2023 season for the New York Yankees, it was clear that changes were on the horizon. The disappointment of missing the playoffs for the first time in seven years was a bitter pill to swallow, but it served as a stark reminder that even the storied franchises must adapt and evolve to remain competitive in the ever-changing landscape of Major League Baseball. The offseason would be a critical chapter in the Yankees’ quest to reclaim their place among the elite teams in the league. Aaron Judge’s future as a Yankee, with all his leadership and power, would undoubtedly play a pivotal role in shaping that future.
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