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More Aaron Judge-Yankees contract speculation | ESNY back page

The lead story: Aaron Judge’s impending free agency moved to the front burner briefly with Wednesday’s baseball blackout in town. Yankees general manager Brian Cashman made some curious comments about the slugger and his future. And then the 2023 MLB schedule was released with a tantalizing Opening Day matchup. The Giants will be in The Bronx to start next season against the Yankees. What team will Judge be playing for?

The sidebars: The Yankees start a west coast swing in Oakland against the Athletics after a day off. And the Mets will host the Rockies at Citi Field after also having the day off. Jacob deGrom will be on the hill for the Amazins.

The standings: The Yankees (76-48) have an 7.5-game lead on the Rays in the AL East. The lead is seven games in the loss column. Their lead for the AL’s No. 2 seed is nine games over the Guardians (eight in the loss column).

The Mets (79-46) have a 1.5-game lead on the Braves in the NL East. The edge is the same in the standings and in the loss column. The Mets also have an 7.5-game lead on the Cardinals for the NL’s No. 2 seed (seven games in the loss column).

The schedule: First pitch for Mets-Rockies is at 7:10 p.m. (SNY). And the Yankees will start at 9:40 p.m. against the Athletics (YES).

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James Kratch can be reached at james.kratch@xlmedia.com

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.