Yankees are Botching the Aaron Judge Situation
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. Keep in mind, this is especially true with the thin Free Agent pool this offseason. Since Judge declined this contract means Aaron Judge will certainly 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 does not want to negotiate a new contract during the season because it can serve as a distraction to 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 reject the contract offer, Cashman will 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 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 how insanely passionate the fans in New York can be. He 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 just that on April 11th, a night where 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 with 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 who is 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 games best outfielders Trout, Harper, and Betts. He is among the active leaders in three of the game’s most important hitting statistics on top of being a very good defensive outfielder.
In reality, Brian Cashman offered the face of his franchise an extension offer that does not match Judge’s true value in comparison to the rest of the players with his level of talent. On top of this, he knowingly leaked the details of the contract offer clearly knowing members of the New York Sports media and Yankee fan base would be in mass hysteria that he turned down an offer that would make him 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 by now. I cannot stress enough how Cashman’s action 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 New York community. If anything, this gives Judge more incentive to sign with any of the other 29 teams who will certainly be interested in signing him. Especially after the season he will be experiencing.
No matter what he does he will be hearing 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 was directly caused by my General Manager I would not want to sign with the Yankee organization.
If I were an MLB GM, I would certainly make a 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 towards the end of his contract. Aaron Judge is an elite baseball player, who would make every team better. 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. I am also happy and assured that the leader of our Baseball Operations would never stoop so low.