Aaron Judge
Jason Getz | USA TODAY Sports

Aaron Judge(ment) Day is here. Will the Yankees and their star slugger come to a deal before Gerrit Cole throws the first pitch on Opening Day?

If they don’t come to an agreement before the deadline that may not actually be a deadline, it looks like the front office is getting out ahead of the story. The Yankees have made an offer to Judge that would make him the highest-paid position player in franchise history by annual value, according to The New York Post.

The Yankees have bid more than $27.5 million, the annual value of the 10-year, $275 million deal that Alex Rodriguez signed with the team.

That would take him north of Yoenis Cespedes and leave Judge only behind Mike Trout ($35.54 million) and Mookie Betts ($30.4 million) for the largest ever among outfielders.

All in all, that sounds pretty fair. Judge is a great player, no doubt. But he is going to turn 30 on April 26, he’s been injury-prone and he’s a .230 career postseason hitter with zero (0) World Series appearances. Which kind of matters when you’re going to be one of the highest-paid Yankees ever.


This is what I keep coming back to with Judge: He’s a perennial All-Star when healthy (which is not always a given), he’s the face of the franchise, he sells a lot of shirseys, etc. But have you ever watched him play and felt like he belongs in the same conversation as Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle and Derek Jeter? No? I agree with you. Which begs the question: If he is not necessarily an All-Time Yankee, then how much is too much?

Trout is objectively better than Judge. We can have a debate about Betts, and it sounds like the Yankees are willing to have that, according to The Post:

The Yankees are almost certain not to exceed Trout’s annual value, but it is always possible they would push further – perhaps toward or above Betts for a player that Hal Steinbrenner has told his lieutenants he badly wants to sign.

At the end of the day, it’s just money. The Yankees have plenty of it, and they’ll likely give Judge whatever it takes to keep him in pinstripes. But it will be interesting to see how a team that has been so budget-conscious will respond if Judge drives a hard — and lucrative — bargain. And what had been a quiet negotiation process has now been taken public with a potentially-nasty arbitration battle for 2022 still on the table.

 

James Kratch is the managing editor of ESNY. He previously worked as a Rutgers and Giants (and Mike Francesa) beat reporter for NJ Advance Media.