Insiders believe Cashman has a Plan B for Aaron Judge

Aaron Judge and Anthony Rizzo
Sara Molnick
Thursday November 17, 2022

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The New York Yankees are ready to show how much money they have. They hope to retain free-agent outfielder Aaron Judge in pinstripes. But if the 30-year-old power hitter decides to leave the Bronx, the team’s general manager, Brian Cashman, has a great plan B.

The Yankees expect to re-sign the power hitter. However, with the Giants in hot pursuit of the slugger, they have a backup plan. Jon Heyman of the New York Post believes the Yankees “have made several surprising free-agent connections, including with marquee shortstops Trea Turner, Carlos Correa and Xander Bogaerts and also crosstown center-field star Brandon Nimmo.”

It’s a bit surprising that the Yankees want one of the best shortstops. But getting Bogaerts from the arch-rivals the Red Sox could be one of the boldest moves if it succeeds. Last winter, New York didn’t sign any of the big-name shortstops who were free agents. Instead, they traded for Isiah Kiner-Falefa, who is expected to be back in 2023 after struggling in the playoffs.

Jim Bowden of The Athletic thinks “if the Yankees don’t get Aaron Judge, I could see them switching to Jacob deGrom, Justin Verlander, or Carlos Rodón to improve their rotation and focusing on a free-agent outfielder with a high on-base percentage, like Brandon Nimmo or Andrew Benintendi.”

The former general manager knows what Cashman might do if Aaron Judge leaves town. But he doesn’t agree the Yankees will go after one of the big-name free-agent shortstops because they are committed to middle-infield prospects Anthony Volpe and Oswald Peraza.

Even Heyman admits that “the club personnel has suggested that it remains likely that youngster Oswald Peraza and Anthony Volpe will compete for the starting shortstop job.”

Nimmo is one of the best bats on the open market, and the New York Mets have said that getting him is one of their top priorities this offseason. They have confirmed that closer Edwin Diaz will stay in the Queens. They didn’t hesitate to retain him for a five-year, $102 million deal, which is a record for the highest amount ever offered to a reliever.

The Yankees took a plunge into the market on Tuesday when they re-signed Anthony Rizzo to a deal that could be worth up to $51 million over three years. Aaron Judge is close with the 33-year-old and his return is good news for the Yankees, who are eager to sign him back.

Even though the San Francisco Giants are likely to try to get Aaron Judge, Heyman says that “signs look good” for Judge to come back to New York because “Yankees people have sounded a little bit more hopeful in recent days.” That includes Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner, who said this week that he thinks Judge will stay with the team.

Aaron Judge turned down a seven-year, $213.5 million contract before the season started. He then went out and had a walk season for the ages, hitting 62 home runs and coming close to winning the Triple Crown. Aaron Judge is likely to be named AL MVP on Thursday.

This week, Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner said that the team and Judge have begun to talk. Steinbrenner also said again that the Yankees would rather re-sign Judge than let him leave for free.

“I’ve talked to Aaron Judge more than once since the season was over. I’m going to stop there. Very good talk. I made it clear to him that that is what we want. He’s very important to this group, and I’ve told him that we’ll do everything we can to make sure he stays.”

One sign that the Yankees really want to sign Aaron Judge? Meanwhile, reports indicate of starting of parlays between Cashman and his agent Page Odle. However, there were also reports that the Giants want Judge and are willing to spend whatever it takes to get him.

Farhan Zaidi, the Giants president, told earlier in Las Vegas during the meeting of franchise general managers that the team’s owners haven’t set any explicit ceiling on the amount he can spend to sign players for the next season.

“I think from a financial standpoint there’s nobody that would be out of our capability,” Zaidi said. “And then it’ll just be a question of whether there’s mutual interest and how we put together the best possible team.”

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