aaron judge
Frank Becerra Jr. | The Journal News/USA TODAY Network

Aaron Judge’s free agency goes live at 5 p.m. ET on Thursday. The Yankees slugger is not expected to make a decision anytime soon. But Judge can officially sign with the Bombers or any other team then.

The Bombers will have no financial excuse if they lose Judge, based on the projected contract figures reported by ESPN:

Front-office officials surveyed at the GM meetings pegged a Judge deal somewhere in the neighborhood of eight years and $320 million — perhaps a tick higher if the San Francisco Giants or Los Angeles Dodgers make a spirited run at Judge.

Our immediate reaction: That’s it?

Judge would be the highest-paid position player in history at a $40 million AAV. But he would still be making $3 million less per year than the Mets give Max Scherzer. And the Yankees would be paying him only $4 million more a year than ace Gerrit Cole. Which seems like a bit of a steal, no?

Losing Judge will be a colossal blow for the Yankees no matter how it happens. But there would be degrees to the devastation. If he wants to go home to California, there is only so much the Yankees can do. The same goes for if a competitor makes a market-changing offer, like the Rangers giving him $50 million a year.

But if the Yankees are just too cheap to pay a price that, in the grand scheme of things, is only a few bucks more annually than what they offered in April? They will get crushed. And deservedly so.

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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.