aaron judge yankees
Kim Klement | USA TODAY Sports

The Angels are in town to play the Yankees and Shohei Ohtani Fever is gripping New York City. Los Angeles’ two-way sensation will be a free agent at the end of the season and it’s no secret the Mets are interested.

But could the Yankees be too? T-shirts featuring Ohtani and team captain Aaron Judge are being sold at Yankee Stadium this week so cue the speculation. Speaking to Brendan Kuty of The Athletic, Judge himself played a little coy about the MVP runner-up donning the pinstripes. Judge also expressed his support for Ohtani ahead of a big winter.

“It’s going to be exciting to watch,” Judge said. “I’m excited to see where he goes.”

Judge also added a, “I hope he likes …” before correcting and then repeating himself. If he knows something about Ohtani and his free agency plans, he’s not telling.

First things first, let’s be real and ignore #YankeesTwitter. Ohtani is not signing with the Yankees in free agency. He made a point of not even meeting with them when he first came to MLB and met only with west coast teams. What’s to stop the big-spending Dodgers from giving him a long-term contract north of $400 million?

But what if the Yankees are indeed serious about signing Ohtani in free agency? They rarely sell merchandise featuring an opposing player and Ohtani would immediately be the face of the franchise if he signed in New York. Kuty also added Ohtani went off-routine and took on-field batting practice Tuesday.

Just imagine. A Yankees lineup featuring Judge, Ohtani and Giancarlo Stanton. Three former MVPs, potentially all in a row. Now add Ohtani into a pitching rotation already featuring Gerrit Cole and Carlos Rodon, plus Nestor Cortes.

The Yankees are a serious contender this year without Ohtani and could become a near shoe-in for a World Series with him. There’s still a lot of season left but the 2023 offseason just got a tad more exciting.

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Josh Benjamin has been a staff writer at ESNY since 2018. He has had opinions about everything, especially the Yankees and Knicks. He co-hosts the “Bleacher Creatures” podcast and is always looking for new pieces of sports history to uncover, usually with a Yankee Tavern chicken parm sub in hand.