Are you ready for another chapter of the Aaron Judge free agency chronicles? Whether you are or not, here it comes.
You’d have to think the Yankees will do whatever possible to retain their homegrown slugger this winter. But with the San Francisco Giants ready to pull out all the stops, is there a point where New York just lets him go? It’s possible.
Even if the Giants offer the most money, they’ll have to further convince Judge that coming home is a worthy idea. While San Francisco won 107 games in 2021, they went 81-81 and missed the playoffs in 2022. Can the Giants be a playoff contender and compete with the Los Angeles Dodgers every year?
They can say they will, but the front office will have to show it. NBC Sports Bay Area notes San Francisco has a plan in place. It’s not just trying to sign all the top free agents, although that’s part of the plan.
Outside of being determined to not be underbid, Randy Miller of NJ.com also mentioned the Giants will pursue other big-name players. One of those is shortstop Trea Turner. This would do a few things for the Giants. It’d signal to Judge they’re serious about contending, it’d strengthen the top of their own lineup, and it’d take Turner away from the Dodgers.
Reeling in a big fish like Turner would be huge in convincing Judge that San Francisco is the right fit. But he’s just one player, and this would be the start of a spending spree. Miller thinks they’d also try signing Anthony Rizzo. Judge and he have gotten close during their time together on the Yankees.
Rizzo could stay with New York in 2023 as part of the two-year deal he signed last winter. However, he’s expected to exercise his player option and enter the open market. Brandon Belt has been the Giants’ first baseman for most of the past decade, but he’s also entering free agency after a knee injury limited him to 78 games in 2022.
Here are some final thoughts from Miller on this situation (quote via NBC Sports Bay Area):
If [the Giants] get [Rizzo], that will convince Judge he can win. To me the biggest holdup here, can the Giants convince Judge they’re in it to win it every year?
I think he feels a tug to go home. … As long as the Giants convince him that they’re going to win, and from what I hear Giants owners are prepared to get at least two, and maybe three people to build this lineup up and be contenders for the long-term so they can compete with the Dodgers.
The X-Factor here is nobody really knows what Judge wants. He’s said all the right things leading into free agency, but the Yankees have no clue if he really wants to stay or not. What we do know is the Giants are prepared to wow everyone in their pursuit.
They’ve been looking for an offensive cornerstone since Barry Bonds stopped playing for them in 2007. It seems like this is Farhan Zaidi’s best chance at landing the big-ticket acquisition he’s been searching for.