It’s natural to cringe when Randy Levine starts talking. The Yankees president has proven himself quite adept at starting brush fires with his mouth, from Dellin Betances to Mike Trout to the lockout earlier this year.
That said, Levine was relatively measured when discussing Aaron Judge’s impending free agency with The Post on Tuesday. A bit condescending? Sure. But that’s what you expect with Levine. He otherwise said everything you would expect him to say. But the tail end of his monologue did raise our eyebrows. And should concern Yankees fans a smidge.
“Negotiations, at the end of the day, have to be in the realm of reality,” Levine said on “The Show” podcast.
“Not unreality. … There’s venting and saying stuff that makes no sense at all in the real world, and then there’s the real effort that we’re going to try to do to keep him a Yankee forever.”
The inconvenient truth for Levine and owner Hal Steinbrenner and general manager Brian Cashman: The definition of reality in this case is pretty simple. It’s whatever numbers the Yankees and the other 29 big league clubs put on the table for Judge. And if someone throws out a figure the Bombers’ brain trust does not like, that does not make it any less real.
The Yankees can praise Judge non-stop. Profess how hard they will try until they are blue in the face. And they can pull out all the stops to sell the grandeur of New York and the mystique of the pinstripes. But if the Rangers offer Judge the biggest contract in baseball history, that is reality. If Steve Cohen and the Mets want to give Judge a game-changing deal short on years and astronomical on salary, that is reality. If Judge is more inclined to give the Giants a hometown discount than the Yankees, that is reality.
Levine claimed the Yankees do not want Judge to leave and that they view him as an all-time player in the franchise’s history. If true, they will not waste time trying to negotiate his way into the fold moving forward. They will just write whatever check it takes. Because if they don’t, someone else likely will. And you don’t get to cry pour when you just bought a chunk of an Italian soccer team.
The Yankees are fully committed to retaining Judge. Or they are not. Simple as that. We’ll find out this winter. And that is reality.
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