Aaron Judge’s long-term future is on the backburner for now. But the Yankees are going to have to grapple with his impending free agency sooner rather than later, and it appears possible he could walk this winter.
Mike Francesa will not lose sleep if that happens. The WFAN legend does not believe it is imperative the Yankees re-sign Judge for 2023 and beyond.
“I think very few Yankees in the everyday lineup have to be part of the future. And to me, that includes Judge,” Francesa said on a recent BetRivers podcast. “I don’t think this team falls apart if it loses Judge. I really don’t. I think there are a lot of answers they can make going forward with the money they save building the team around other players.”
The Yankees tried to lock Judge down before the start of the season, offering him an eight-year deal worth over $230 million. But Judge and his representatives turned it down amid reports he was seeking Mike Trout-level money. The slugger then ended talks and bet on himself, saying he plans to test free agency after this season.
Judge is batting .298 with eight home runs (tied for second in the big leagues) and 16 RBI so far. If he maintains that production and stays healthy, he could cash in this offseason. The Yankees clearly plan to make a strong push to keep him — the fact there has not been a whiff of trade buzz confirms this — but at what cost?
General manager Brian Cashman has plenty of money to spend, but owner Hal Steinbrenner has ended the days of operating with an unrestricted checkbook. And Judge is going to be 30 this year and has struggled with injuries throughout his career. If a club desperate to make a splash makes a wild offer, there is a good chance the Yankees will decide to bow out of the bidding. If so, Francesa thinks that is OK.
“I’m not worried about Judge,” Francesa said. “I’m really not. I’m worried about other parts of this team a lot more than I’m worried about whether or not Judge stays in the future.
James Kratch can be reached at [email protected]