Aaron Judge’s self-imposed deadline for a new contract passed without a deal, but the Yankees’ anguish was eased by a walk-off triumph over the Boston Red Sox in extra innings.
Aaron Judge had everything in place to win the day. On opening day in the Bronx, two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning tie the game. Judge takes the batter’s box and hits a line-drive double to the left field corner. Isn’t he supposed to come in with the winning run? That was bound to happen next.
Judge had started the day by relocating to Brett Gardner’s old locker in Yankee Stadium’s home clubhouse, which was ideal real estate in the home clubhouse: adjacent to an empty stall, directly next to the showers, and with a perfect view of the TV.
“I talked to Gardy about it a little bit, and he said, ‘Take care of it,'” Judge explained. “It’s a tremendous honor.”
Judge was more guarded when it came to his negotiations with the Yankees. We’ll know if the team has met his deadline for a long-term contract before he becomes a free agency this off-season by first pitch, he added. The general manager, Brian Cashman, saved us the wait by announcing that talks were over two hours before game time.
“As we move forward, our intent is to keep Aaron Judge as a New York Yankee, and I know that’s his intent as well, which is a wonderful thing,” Cashman said. “We’ll definitely be entering those efforts in a new arena at the end of the season, when free agency begins,” he said. Maybe that will determine what his true market value is, because we couldn’t agree on anything at this point.”
Cashman went out of his way to publicize the Yankees’ offer: seven years at $30.5 million each season, starting in 2023.
The Yankees never reveal such information in public, but it always leaks, and Cashman claimed he was only trying to avoid a barrage of text messages from reporters.
To be sure, it’s understandable, but Judge isn’t known for his candor.
He commented after the game, “I don’t like talking numbers.”
“I prefer to keep that a secret.”
That was something I thought was more personal between my club and the Yankees.”
But now we know: Judge could have guaranteed himself $213.5 million for seven years — following a 2022 pay of $17 million or $21 million, depending on whether the parties avoid an arbitration process — but he declined.
He has every right to seek his full market value, and he is now willing to do so.
“I’m a free agent at the end of the year,” Judge stated.
“Talk to 30 teams, and one of those 30 teams will be the Yankees.”
It’s always wonderful to strive to finish anything as soon as possible.
However, we were unable to complete the task, and now the focus shifts to baseball.”
Only one hitter with at least 1,500 plate appearances in the last five seasons, Mike Trout, has a higher on-base percentage (.391) and a higher slugging percentage than Judge, who turns 30 this month (.563).
Judge, on the other hand, has not been very durable; he was healthy as a rookie and again last season, but missed 37% of the Yankees’ games in the three years between.
Judge has taken on all of the danger by declining the contract.
Which is strange, because the offer seemed to fit his requirements.
On the failure of contract talks, Judge described his feelings as follows:
“I’m simply unhappy because I believe I’ve stated that ‘I want to be a Yankee for life,’ and that I want to return to New York with a title.”
I’d like to do it for the sake of the supporters here.
They’re blood relatives.
This is where I call home.
And not getting it done right now stinks, but I have a job to do on the field, so I’ve got to focus on that right now and go play some ball.”
Again, this is a Judge’s career and life, and no one should sign anything that makes them feel uneasy.
Perhaps he desired something more comparable to Trout, 30, who is expected to earn $35.5 million each year until 2030.
So, in these negotiations, what was crucial to Judge?
That was a difficult question to answer.
He stated, “What was essential to me was trying to get a transaction done.”
“We weren’t able to pull it off.”
As a result, I believe it was just straightforward and uncomplicated.
I’m not going to delve into any of the specifics.
I need to concentrate on returning to New York with a championship.
It’s been a long time.
We just couldn’t come to an agreement on anything.”
Last month, the Red Sox forced infielder Trevor Story to acquire the Covid vaccination as part of his six-year, $140 million contract.
Only immunized players will be permitted to enter Canada for games against the Toronto Blue Jays, and Judge has remained tight-lipped about his situation.
Cashman did not clarify what, if any, impact that played in the negotiations, but Judge stated categorically that it was not an issue.
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So we have a guy who claims he wanted to continue past this season and a team that claims it would have paid him $30.5 million per year to do so until he was 37 years old.
And, according to Judge, the vaccine question was not discussed.
So, why didn’t the first day of business start with a long-term contract between the franchise player and the franchise?
Judge isn’t saying anything, and he doesn’t appear eager to be fully comprehended.
If Judge wants to continue discussions, Cashman said the Yankees will always listen, but don’t count on it.
Judge’s big wager is on himself, a tactic that has yielded uneven outcomes for other contestants.
Juan Gonzalez turned down a $140 million offer from the Tigers after being acquired in a trade in 1999, and instead earned around $46 million for the rest of his career.
In 2014, Max Scherzer turned down a $144 million offer from the Tigers, but went on to sign a $210 million free agent contract with Washington.
The judge stated that he was comfortable with his risk.
He said he was honored just to have the chat with the Yankees and declined their offer.
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