Will the third Yankees offer to Aaron Judge be the trick, or will he hold out for more?
With the free agency of Aaron Judge capturing the imagination of all and sundry, the Yankees are more determined than ever to keep him wearing pinstripes.
Aaron Judge backed himself back in March, when he rejected an offer of seven years for $213.5 million from the New York Yankees. It was a gamble that paid off big, since he went on to set the American League and franchise single-season home run record, breaking the legendary mark set by Roger Maris over sixty years ago.
When the smoke cleared at the end of the season, the Yankees upped their offer to keep their poster boy in the Bronx, and two weeks ago, there were reports that a revised offer was on the table. This third stab is being reported by ESPN’s Jeff Passan as being “in the neighborhood of eight years and $300 million”.
Aaron Judge has certainly made hay of these negotiations, netting himself nearly a 1/3 increase on last March’s offer, but it may not end there. Passan says that the Yankees “could increase it, depending on how far the San Francisco Giants, the other top suitor, are willing to push the market.”
If Judge accepts what is on the table, his annual average value would be $37.5 million, pushing him past Mike Trout’s current mark of $35.5 million, and turn the Yankees center fielder into the highest-salaried position player.
The American League MVP finished the season with a stunning .311/.425/.686 slash line, giving him the best offensive season since Barry Bonds’ heyday. You would have to go all the way back to Ted Williams in 1957 to find anyone else that came close to it.
With San Francisco and New York widely believed to be in a two-horse race for Judge, there is a chance that the Dodgers will make a last-minute play for him as well. They could match that $300 million offer and make things very uncomfortable for the team in the Big Apple, but there is some doubt that they will make the jump for Judge, when there is big speculation around the league that they are really interested in Shohei Ohtani.
Most insiders believe that Judge will make a decision in the next ten days or so, and smart money is on him staying in New York, but don’t be surprised if he nudges that number just a bit northward before it is all done. The record-setting for Aaron Judge may not end on the ball field.