Aaron Judge New York Yankees
Vincent Carchietta | USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees are hoping San Francisco is not in Aaron Judge’s heart come winter.

The Bronx Bombers’ brain trust reportedly perceives the Giants as the biggest threat to their efforts to re-sign the slugger and impending free agent. Judge grew up about two hours east of the Bay Area in Linden, California. He also played at Fresno State, which is about three hours away.

“I do think the Yankees look at it that way, that the Giants are the team they need to beat,” The Post’s Jon Heyman said on his weekly podcast with Joel Sherman.

Sherman called the Giants a potential “stalking horse.” They only have the 13th-highest payroll in Major League Baseball. But the Giants made a major offer to outfielder Bryce Harper in 2019 before he signed with the Phillies. They are expected to bid for Judge, who is the early favorite to be American League MVP thanks to a torrid start to his contract year.

Heyman reiterated prior reporting that Mets owner Steve Cohen is unlikely to pursue Judge out of courtesy to Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner. He added the Yankees don’t believe the other big market teams — naming the Cubs, Dodgers and Red Sox — will be factors for myriad reasons.


“They don’t believe the Mets would do it, and I think they’re right,” he said. “I don’t think they want to start a war in New York. I think the two sides are going to play nice there.”

That said, there could always be a surprise team — a possibility Heyman and Sherman concede. The Rangers, Tigers and Twins were mentioned as mid-tier teams that have spent money in recent years.

“Trying to fully predict the market months ahead of time is always foolhardy,” Sherman said.

Judge said he planned to test free agency after extension talks were halted on Opening Day. There is increased speculation the Yankees could approach his camp to see if he would consider returning to the table sooner. Heyman and Sherman suggested the possibility of a 72-hour window during the All-Star break. But that was speculation, not reporting.

James Kratch can be reached at [email protected]

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.