Yankees are Botching the Aaron Judge Situation
Updated: Dec 6, 2022
One of the biggest storylines in baseball right now is Aaron Judge's upcoming Free Agency after this season. Before Opening Day, the Yankees tried to extend the face of their franchise, but he rejected their offer. In response, Yankees General Manager, Brian Cashman, leaked that the Yankees offered Aaron Judge a seven-year contract with an AAV of 30.5 million for a total of 213.5 million. Accepting the extension would have made Aaron Judge the highest-paid Yankee based on AAV in team history. Judge and his agent believe that Judge can make more once he hits Free Agency this offseason. This is especially true with the thin Free Agent pool this offseason. Since Judge declined, this contract means Aaron Judge will undoubtedly be a Free Agent this winter. Judge's camp imposed a deadline to sign an extension with the Yankees, which was Opening Day. Like most athletes, Judge wants to refrain from negotiating a new contract during the season because it can distract the player and the team. This is all normal behavior from Aaron Judge's camp.
Unfortunately for him, he plays in New York, and the New York sports media does two things. Make every little thing a story and overreact to everything, which makes Brian Cashman's actions of leaking the details of the contract to be absolutely Bush League. Even worse, he told Judge and his agent that if they rejected the contract offer, Cashman would leak the contract details to the New York media. What is the purpose of doing that? Is that supposed to be a threat to make the Judge panic and sign the contract? That would be laughable. No, this is a public attack on the player.
Brian Cashman has served as General Manager of the New York Yankees since 1998 and has been a part of this organization since 1986. He is fully aware of how insanely passionate New York fans can be. Cashman is also aware that they can be downright cruel and cynical. So he was fully aware that the Yankee fans would boo Aaron Judge the first time he had a bad game. They did that on April 11th, a night when Judge was 0 for 3 with two strikeouts and a walk. He was booed off the field for his performance. New York fans feel justified in their actions, with their reasoning being, "If he wants Trout money, he needs to play like Trout." In case you didn't know, Aaron Judge is second among active players in career On Base Plus Slugging the most important hitting stat) with a .938 OPS since he entered the league in 2016. He also is second among active players in Slugging Percentage with a .552 SLG% throughout his career. The only player ahead of him in those stat categories is Mike Trout, the best player in baseball over the past decade.
Judge also ranks 6th among active players in On Base Percentage with a remarkable .385 OBP. A number behind players such as Mike Trout and Bryce Harper and ahead of Mookie Betts. This illustrates Aaron Judge's point that he deserves to be paid among the game's best outfielders, Trout, Harper, and Betts. Besides being an outstanding defensive outfielder, he is among the active leaders in three of the game's most important hitting statistics.
In reality, Brian Cashman offered the face of his franchise an extension offer that does not match Judge's actual value compared to the rest of the players with his talent level. On top of this, he knowingly leaked the details of the contract offer, knowing members of the New York Sports media and Yankee fan base would be in mass hysteria. Especially an offer that would make Judge the highest-paid Yankee based on AAV in team history. New York fans and media believe he does not want to be here after turning down that offer. A player can love playing for an organization and still want to get paid what they believe they are worth, not settle for a discount. Everyone should know they buy now. I cannot stress enough how Cashman's actions here are pathetic, an attack on the player, and, quite frankly, insulting. Especially to a player who has done nothing but give you everything he has to offer to the Yankee franchise and the New York community. This gives Judge more incentive to sign with any other 29 teams, which will certainly be interested in signing him. Especially after the season, he will be experiencing.
No matter what he does, he will hear criticism and boos from fans and media alike. The expectations from Sports Media and fans in the Big Apple are always unrealistic. If I were Aaron Judge, After a season of dealing with boos and criticism, which my General Manager directly caused, I would not want to sign with the Yankee organization.
If I were an MLB GM, I would push to sign Aaron Judge. Is his injury history concerning? Yes. Especially as he enters his thirties, but it's 2022. The world of Sports Science has come so far that organizations can certainly find ways to keep Judge's body healthy for the seasons to come.
Another thing to note is the Universal DH. Judge can certainly slide into that Designated Hitter Role toward the end of his contract. Aaron Judge is an elite baseball player who would improve every team. As a Red Sox fan, Cashman's handling of this situation is excellent. His behavior and negotiation tactics have been bush league and insulting to the player.