Cashman said he did it to be transparent (and because the numbers were bound to get out anyway). Which is all well and good. But it was definitely a rough-and-tumble negotiating tactic. And one that, given the circumstances at the time, did paint Judge in a somewhat unfavorable light. Which is why the entire world has presumed for months that Judge and his camp were chapped by the move. And guess what it? Everyone was right.
Judge was named TIME’s Athlete of the Year on Tuesday as his free agency circus heats up. Nestled in a feature commemorating the honor: The new American League home run king confirming he took umbrage with Cashman’s actions.
[Judge] had felt blindsided in April when New York Yankees GM Brian Cashman took the rare step of publicly revealing that Judge had turned down $213.5 million to stay in the Bronx for the next seven years. “We kind of said, Hey, let’s keep this between us,” says Judge. “I was a little upset that the numbers came out. I understand it’s a negotiation tactic. Put pressure on me. Turn the fans against me, turn the media on me. That part of it I didn’t like.” (A Yankees spokesperson declined to make Cashman available for comment.)
It is important to not get carried away here. There is no indication Cashman committed an unforgivable sin in Judge’s eyes, one that immediately made returning to the Yankees a non-starter. Time (and truckloads of money) heals all wounds.
But it is increasingly clear things are not 100% copacetic between the Bronx Bombers and their best player. And when you throw in the reports Judge was unhappy with the “toxicity” of Yankees fans during the postseason and the general lack of confidence and conviction the Yankees seem to have about re-signing him … the idea he will bolt for another team feels more and more realistic. If not likely.
Oh, by the way, this was also in the feature:
In fact his wife, high school sweetheart Samantha Bracksieck, reminded him of a prediction he made in 2010, his senior year at Linden High School. “I said, in 10 years, I’ll be married to Sam,” says Judge, “and playing for the San Francisco Giants.” Judge smiles. “I was like, that’d better not get out.”
If that is in a yearbook and everyone in Linden has managed to keep it under wraps, that is amazing.
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James Kratch can be reached at [email protected]