aaron judge free agency
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The moment we’ve been anticipating for weeks is here, folks. At 5 pm ET on Thursday, the Aaron Judge free agency saga will hit new heights since teams not named the Yankees can start talking dollars and cents with the outfielder.

Fresh off winning his first-ever Hank Aaron Award, we know Judge is going to be the most interesting storyline this winter. After all, it’s not every year that we get to see someone who just slugged 60-plus home runs in a season enter the open market.

General manager Brian Cashman and the Yankees have been in touch with their slugger since New York’s season ended in the ALCS. But obviously, it doesn’t seem like much progress has been made on reaching a deal. And now that the exclusive negotiating window is over, things are about to get more interesting.

There are several teams who could make a run at prying Judge from the Yankees. None have been more convincing than those on the West Coast. The Los Angeles Dodgers are thinking about moving Gold Glover Mookie Betts from right field to second base to make room. Meanwhile, Judge’s childhood team, the San Francisco Giants, appears ready to do whatever it takes to bring the slugger home.

Within the last few weeks, we’ve seen various reports of the Giants’ desire to land Judge this winter. The most eye-opening one was how San Francisco wouldn’t be underbid for the AL home run record holder’s services. How true is that report? We may never know, but Giants president Farhan Zaidi sounds like he’s ready to go to war.

I think I just felt Hal Steinbrenner’s eye twitch again.

From what we’ve heard in recent reports, the Giants have plenty of money coming off the books and are ready to spend it all. It’s not going to be just for Judge, either. As part of their plan to convince him he can win by the Bay, they’ll be in on other top free agents — like the shortstop market.

We know that when push comes to shove, the Yankees can afford any player they want. That happened after the 2019 season when Gerrit Cole became a free agent. This situation with Judge is no different. But after getting their $213.5 million extension offer rejected last spring, it’ll be interesting to see where the bidding starts…let alone where it ends.

One would have to imagine it’ll start around the $300-$320 million range and go from there. How determined are the Giants to acquire Judge? How determined are the Yankees to prevent that from happening?

We’ll find out soon enough, and the show starts in just a few hours.

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.