The Yankees have never been good at reading Aaron Judge, especially when it comes to salary issues.
There is a “Terminator” quality to the Judge. He doesn’t show much emotion when it comes to these matters. He says all the words the organization wants to hear when it comes to his future, particularly that his wish has been to be a Yankee for life.
That fits with Hal Steinbrenner’s public position, which is that he’d like to make the tough slugger spend his entire career in the Bronx.
But when there was an opportunity to do it late in spring training, the Mules were frustrated. Judge not only turned down his 7-year, $213.5 million extension that would start in 2023, but never, in the team’s judgment, provided exactly what it would take to make a long-term deal.
The parties then had to determine his 2022 salary. The Bombers offered $17 million, Judge counterattacked with 21 million. Last season’s lockout forced the arbitration hearings into the regular season. His was the last: June 24.
At noon on that date both sides were in the room preparing to argue their cases before this game of chicken led to a $19 million midpoint deal.
Thus, Judge has shown that he will sit, without question, at the poker table with the Yankees. And he so far he has been the winner in these matches. That $213.5 million offer is as relevant today as Jacoby Ellsbury’s career on the team.
The ranger hit 62 home runs in the midst of one of the greatest seasons in history. So moving him microscopically above Mookie Betts’ median value of $30.42 million to be the second-highest-paid outfielder per year at $30.5 million isn’t going to do it.
Judge had alluded to Mike Trout’s $35.54 million average chip in the spring talks. And he seems almost certain that he will exceed that figure. An average of 40 million is now at stake. So is a duration of 8 or 9 years.
The Judge even won the arbitration. He received two performance bonuses as part of the deal, one of them worth $250,000 if he won the Most Valuable Player award in the American League. He won, and therefore moved above the midpoint between the $17 million the Yankees offered him and the $21 million he asked for.
The other bonus he received by settling his 2022 salary without arbitration was $250,000 if he won the World Series MVP, which was not paid. The Californian has insisted that winning a title, not individual recognition, is his quest.
So what does he think of the Giants? Why doesn’t he chicken out at the poker table? The Yankees made it clear to him that they are willing to lavish huge dollars to keep him. However, Judge was scheduled to meet with the Colossi of the Bay on Tuesday.
Self-confidence is not a problem for the slugger. The Giants’ chances of being a major contender increase with him on the roster.
The only players San Francisco has signed through 2024 are Anthony DeSclafani and Wilmer Flores for a total of 18.5 million. So the Giants have plenty of room on their roster for Judge and more, and once a team signs Judge, considering what it’s going to cost, you’re not just playing to be good. You go for it.
So, is The Judge on the market because he still doesn’t like what he’s hearing from the Yankees? Why get here after being drafted, playing in the Minor Leagues and 6 years in the Majors always with the Mules?
Why not listen to what other organizations offer you? Because you didn’t like the booing of the postseason and you want to leave? Because he ultimately wants to go back to the Yankees but understands that at this poker table he has to play every hand to win the most?
“I have no forecast of anything ever in free agency,” Bombers general manager Brian Cashman said by phone Tuesday when asked if he expected Judge to go on the road as a free agent.
“Everybody does what they want to do. Whether they want to do it because they’re interested or they do it because it’s leverage, I don’t know.”added the executive.
The Yankees have had one-team talks with star free agents they wanted to retain. as Derek Jeter and CC Sabathia. And they’ve had David Cone (particularly with the Orioles) and Bernie Williams (particularly with the red sox) close to signing elsewhere before luring them back.
This is the path that Judge now follows. He is on tour. The Giants are a real possibility. It could also be the Dodgers and others.
He has shown his willingness to play poker with the Yankees. But in the previous instances, he couldn’t leave. He now he can. He’s even more leveraged, and while he didn’t get that World Series bonus, he has shown a fearlessness at the table that positions him well to win this version of the World Series of Poker.
Font: The New York Post
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