Aaron Judge free agency
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees are about to begin their quest for a 28th World Series title on Tuesday with an ALDS matchup against the Cleveland Guardians. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t Aaron Judge free agency rumors to sparse through!

After a 107-win season and an NL West title in 2021, the San Francisco Giants took a step back with an 81-81 campaign in 2022. Manager Gabe Kapler’s club did go on a bit of a tear to finish the year just to get to .500, though, winning seven of its final 10 games.

But according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, the Giants are willing to do anything to return to the playoffs. That would include opening the checkbook for Aaron Judge and other big-time free agents. Shortstop Trea Turner is also on San Francisco’s radar.

Giants president Farhan Zaidi was also quite direct when discussing his organization’s ability to spend this winter:

We do have the flexibility to be involved in every possible option on the table.

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said over the weekend that the outfielder has a “pot of gold” waiting for him in free agency, and he’s not wrong. It’s just yet to be determined which MLB team will be the one to hand it to him.

One would have to imagine there’s no way the Yankees will let him skip town simply because of money, but we’ll have to see what happens. Either way, betting on himself by turning down a $213.5 million extension back in Spring Training will almost assuredly mean his next contract will have a large number with a “3” at the beginning.

But, back to the Giants for a second. With a 2022 payroll just north of $168 million, San Francisco ranked 13th in baseball. As it currently stands, they have about $104 million committed for 2023, as well. There are lots of arbitration salaries that need to be figured out before Opening Day, but two of San Francisco’s biggest salaries may not be on the books next year.

Carols Rodon has to make a decision on exercising his $22.5 million player option. Evan Longoria also has a $13 million club option that’ll probably get declined. So, the Giants could have well under $100 million committed in guaranteed money heading into the offseason.

This will be an intriguing hot stove storyline to follow, especially if the Yankees and Judge can’t come to an agreement before the market officially opens after the World Series.

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.