aaron judge free agency
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With each homer he hits down the stretch, the Aaron Judge free agency situation becomes that much more interesting once the offseason arrives. As that intrigue builds, there will be ideas on how to get creative while giving Judge the big ol’ bag of money he deserves.

Add former MLB pitcher and current YES Network announcer, David Cone, to that list of people with ideas.

The Yankees know that if the organization wants to retain its star, their offer must increase substantially from the seven-year, $213.5 million extension Judge’s camp denied during spring training.

From having the outfielder betting on himself and having a truly historic season, New York may have cost themselves up to $90 million, according to Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated. Depending on how his market takes shape this winter, it may be even more than that. One thing we can be most sure of, though, is that Judge and his representation would probably like to see a “3” at the front of any contract offer he considers.

Cone went on The Dan Patrick Show this week to talk about Judge and his eventual trip into free agency. He had an alternative to simply offering Judge a long-term deal:

This isn’t a bad idea — especially if it’s something Judge would seriously consider accepting. It would also follow the trend of players starting to get paid a huge annual salary over a shorter term, a la Trevor Bauer and Max Scherzer (and maybe also Jacob deGrom).

Paying someone $50 million per year sounds like a lot, but when considering the type of value a player of Judge’s stature brings to an organization, it’d actually be a bargain.

Judge is getting paid $19 million this season. His 10.4 fWAR (prior to Thursday’s action) is worth $85.5 million, according to FanGraphs. This is an extreme example because of how big of a year he’s had, but it’s a similar story to 2021. Judge earned $10.175 million last year and produced 5.5 fWAR, which was worth $43.8 million.

And this is only talking about on-field performance. That doesn’t take into account how he helps fill up Yankee Stadium (especially over the last couple of months) and all the benefits that come along with that. We can also include how often his jersey is getting bought, among other ways the Yankees are profiting.

New York has the ability to pay Judge this type of money. That’s obvious. We’ve yet to see them be willing to do it, though, and it wasn’t too long ago when team president Randy Levine tried to play this all down, too.

This type of payday is a reality for Judge thanks to a monster season. He’s earned the right to see how he’s valued on the open market. If the Yankees are serious about keeping him in the Bronx, it’s going to cost a lot more than they originally thought.

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Matt Musico can be reached at matt.musico@xlmedia.com and you can follow him on Twitter: @mmusico8.

Matt Musico is an editor for ESNY. He’s been writing about baseball and the Mets for the past decade. His work has been featured on numberFire, MetsMerized Online, Bleacher Report, and Yahoo! Sports.