The New York Yankees are riding high this season, sporting the best record in Major League Baseball. This is due in large part to their pitching staff facing sub-par offensive teams and being able to shut them down. Also, supplying the power and muscle for The Bronx Bombers is Aaron Judge. The 6’ 7” outfielder who is putting up historic stats for a franchise that is already historic. (Think about that.) Judge perfectly planned his career season right before he is poised to be a free agent this winter, and that’s the reason why the New York Yankees cannot be fooled into giving Aaron Judge a historic contract.
As a lifelong sports fan, I have seen this story play out many times before. A player with an injury history finally figures out how to make it through a big enough portion of the season to post huge stats and convince teams he is ready to become the next Babe Ruth … something that baseball always manages to laugh at once that player signs their mega contract and waters down those stats. The game’s history is chocked full of players who were lucky enough to post their best season right before hitting the open market and cashing in, only to fall flat with their new team, who were then stuck with them for five, seven or even ten years. Don’t believe me, then look up how much better Albert Pujols’ numbers are with St. Louis before he signed with the Los Angeles Angels.
Aaron Judge has known since breaking into the Majors with the Yankees in 2016 that this season would be one of his most important. After being injury plagued in 2018, 2019 and 2020, the last year and a half has seen the now 30-year-old put everything together and become a leader of the Yankees’ franchise.
Judge, who is part of many marketing campaigns for the team, is a player that could set a record in the free agency market this fall. Yet, it’s clear his current team is hesitant to do so since they have short-changed their star player in previous contract talks.
I would also make the point that the Yankees’ front office knows from their analytics that Judge is an ideal fit for their home stadium since their right fielder loves to hit the ball to right field where cheap fly balls often become home runs. So, while highly talented, New York knows that if Judge leaves town, his stats will go down simply because of a change in home venue will impact this power numbers … and trust me, other teams use the same analytics the Yankees do, too.
So far Yankees’ general manager Brian Cashman has not given into the pressure of trying to sign Judge midseason by attempting to open contract talks again since both sides agreed once the 2022 season began it would be played out without the distraction. Now, with Judge becoming an even bigger fan favorite, the cost of retaining him has gone up from March to June, with no discounts in sight for the fiscally responsible franchise that might have given their right fielder $500 million in years past.
The New York Yankees, or any other Major League team can’t pay Aaron Judge off a season where he could hit 55, 60 or even 65 homeruns, since history says he is not likely to do so again. Because while players always like to negotiate while their value is high, teams know that averages are always what they will come back to year over year, and Aaron Judge is not likely to repeat the stats he is posting so far this season, making whoever signs him as a free agent a huge sucker if they pay him too much or offer him too many years on his next deal.
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The Yankees Can’t Be Fooled By Aaron Judge | TooAthletic.com