Advantage Yankees in Aaron Judge free agency

Aaron Judge
Michael Bennington
Saturday November 26, 2022

Table of Contents

The San Francisco Giants and the Los Angeles Dodgers seem to be the teams outside New York most likely to sign Aaron Judge. This is possible only if the Yankees fail to retain their superstar slugger. The Yankees have advantages for Judge because of their history, ballpark, and familiarity with him and this gives them an edge over the Giants and the Dodgers in the race to sign the power hitter.

The Giants are clearly trying hard, and their meeting with Aaron Judge this week was said to make them more “ecstatic.” However, the idea that they have an advantage because San Francisco is closer to the slugger’s “hometown” seems silly, since the player is from Linden, California, which is two hours and a different way of life away.

The Giants have tried to get big power players before, but they didn’t get Bryce Harper and Aaron Judge’s friend Giancarlo Stanton turned them down. They are likely to avoid everything they did wrong during the attempt to land Harper. However, Oracle Park stands nowhere compared to Yankee Stadium, even though it wouldn’t hold most of Aaron Judge’s super-long drives.

The Dodgers are looking at Aaron Judge and the best shortstops. They have cut $100 million from their payroll so far by divesting several players. But they still want to reduce their $290 million payroll and could target a shortstop, according to Jon Heyman.

Some people think that they would be happy to fill that need with Gavin Lux. Though they look at Aaron Judge, they focus on value even when they are doing well. Mookie Betts’s $365 million contract with deferrals is worth about $290 million, and Freddie Freeman’s $162 million contract is worth about $150 million. These are two of the best recent management contracts. This clearly shows that Aaron Judge is not made for them and will agree to a “good-value contract” after a historic season.

Joel Sherman of the New York Post thinks that Judge can only be taken away from the Yankees in two ways. First, if he doesn’t want to come back at all. This would mean that being a lifelong Yankee isn’t as cool as it used to be. This could be a possibility when the power hitter was subject to boos at home even after hitting record 62 homers.

Secondly, a team makes an offer that the Yankees don’t think they should match or beat. What if, for example, a suitor offers Aaron Judge 10 years and $400 million? Is there a dollar amount or number of years that Steinbrenner, knowing what would happen if he let Judge go, would find impossible to reach?

In both cases, it seems like the Giants are the most dangerous team. Where could Judge go and feel a connection that would make it easy for him to leave the Yankees? How about the team he cheered for when he was a kid in Northern California? Even more so if the Giants are also going to give Judge a record amount of money.

And the Giants might have more reasons than any other team to make a crazy offer. Their home attendance dropped to 2.48 million in 2022, which was the lowest it had been in a season without COVID since 1999. But that 1999 number was part of a five-year stretch when attendance went up, and in 2000, it went over 3 million for the first time in the franchise’s history. Even if one doesn’t count the COVID-affected 2020 and 2021 seasons, this year was the fifth straight year that the number of Giants fans went down. From 2016 to this year, the number of fans went down by almost 900,000.

Getting Aaron Judge would almost certainly make more people buy season tickets and tickets in general. Also, the Giants only have to pay players $18.5 million in 2024. They could give Judge, say, $40 million per season and still spend a lot. They are one of the few big-market clubs with so little money guaranteed in the future. On the other hand, five Yankees players signed contracts worth $109.5 million in 2024. They can fit Aaron Judge at almost any price, but depending on how much Steinbrenner wants to spend, they would have a lot less room to move elsewhere.

Sherman thinks that the Yankees will still keep Aaron Judge. That, in the end, like Cole, Steinbrenner thinks Judge is too important to the short-term success of his team on and off the field, and he doesn’t want to make things worse with fans who already dislike him.

If the Yankees don’t keep Aaron Judge, Steinbrenner will show he means business by going big somewhere else.

What do you think? Leave your comment below.

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