Cashman: “a pot of gold awaits Judge”

NEW YORK — Brian Cashman assumes that Aaron Judge he’s already struck gold thanks to his record-setting season and raised the price for the New York Yankees to keep their star slugger.

In the hours leading up to Opening Day last April, Judge turned down a contract that would have paid him $213.5 million over seven seasons from 2023 through 2029. He is eligible for free agency and will command much more after setting an American League record with 62 home runs, tied for the major league lead with 131 RBIs, though he missed the Triple Crown with a .311 batting average.

“There’s a pot of gold there,” Cashman, the Yankees’ general manager, said Sunday before the Division Series against Cleveland. “What the gold is, how much it weighs, hasn’t been determined yet, but it’s a pot of gold, no question about it. Good for him. It was already a big pot and obviously it’s going to be even bigger.”

Judge was drafted by the Yankees in 2013 and hit a home run in his first major league at-bat three years later. The 30-year-old Californian has become the face of the Yankees, after Derek Jeter, a four-time All-Star with 220 home runs in seven seasons and a well-identified fan favorite for his figure and his ever-present smile.

“He’s put himself in an incredible position to have a lot of options,” Cashman said. “And clearly we’d like to win that argument, and that’s obviously for another day. But we said it before the season. We said it many times during the season. If you need to hear it again, but I’ll say it again, yes, for Of course we’d love to have Aaron Judge back as part of the New York Yankees, but that’s for another day.”

Judge had a $19 million salary this season on a one-year deal that avoided an arbitration hearing. He would not negotiate a long-term contract during the season.

“I’ve said I want to be a Yankee for life,” Judge said before Game 1. “I want to bring a championship back to New York. I want to do it for the fans. They’re my family. This is my home, and not getting it right now sucks. … At the end of the year, I’m a free agent. I can talk to 30 teams and the Yankees will be one of those 30 teams.

New York can negotiate terms with Judge exclusively during the first 15 days after the World Series. After that, all teams can bid.

“He’s a great player, he bet on himself, and it’s the best bet of all time, right, the way he’s gone through the season,” Cashman said. “Obviously, he was healthy and you know what he’s capable of when he’s healthy. He’s always putting up big numbers when he’s healthy and has been for a number of years.”

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Cashman: “a pot of gold awaits Judge”