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  • Writer's pictureEthan Semendinger

No (Arb) Hearing for the Judge!

The Yankees and Judge avoided arbitration and settled on a $19 Million (+incentives) 2022 contract. Details inside!


The Context:

When a baseball player makes it to the big leagues, both their rookie and MLB service time clock starts ticking. A player will reach their rookie eligibility if they reach 130 at-bats (batters), 50 innings pitched (pitchers), or they have been a part of the active roster- not counting time on the IL or after September call-ups- for 45 days.

Once a player reaches their rookie eligibility, their service time clock starts. From then on their team will have three years/seasons of pre-arbitration control before an additional three years of arbitration-based control.

For those first three seasons of pre-arbitration control, the team can decide what they want to play their players as long as it it above the league minimum. Currently, the league minimum is $700,000 and is going to increase to $780,000 for the 2026 season. Additionally, during this time the team can- and pretty much always do- give raises to their "pre-arb" players based on performance, awards won, etc.

After those three "pre-arb" years, the player will get some considerable pay raises over the next three years during arbitration. For these years, the player earns some power as they can accept or decline a contract offer from their team. These contracts work on a year-by-year growth system where salaries will get higher the further along in arbitration a player is. Often times, a player entering their first year of arbitration will often get between $2-5 million, for arbitration two between $5-10 million, and arbitration three between $10-20 million.

(Note: There is a 4th year of arbitration for players under a "Super Two" system, but in the case for Judge this is irrelevant.)

If a player declines a teams contract offer and they decide to go into an arbitration hearing, they then have to file for a salary they deem worthy and be able to defend it in front of a 3-party panel: one team representative, one players representative, and one impartial third party. That panel will decide who wins and that player will be assigned that salary figure. That is where we are at for Aaron Judge.

The Yankees filed for a $17 Million salary for 2022. Aaron Judge declined the offer and is going to hearing for a $21 Million salary.

(Note: Teams and players can still negotiate between the time of filing and the official hearings. However, at the time of the hearing, the original offers from both sides are the only one considered.)

For reference, here were Aaron Judge's salaries by year:

  • 2017 - $544,500 (Pre-Arb 1)

  • 2018 - $622,300 (Pre-Arb 2)

  • 2019 - $684,300 (Pre-Arb 3)

  • 2020 - $3,148,148 (Arbitration 1)

  • 2021 - $10,175,000 (Arbitration 2)

  • 2022 - To be decided

(Note: MLB league minimum salary when Aaron Judge entered the league was $535,000.)


The Hearing:

Aaron Judge and the New York Yankees are meeting at 12:00 PM today (June 24th, 2022) for his arbitration-3 hearing.

Keep in mind:

When news becomes available, we will update this post.

Update 1: According to Buster Onley (ESPN), the Yankees have recently proposed a settlement of $19 million for a 2022 contract with Aaron Judge, but he has declined the offer.

Update 2: According to Jon Heyman (NY Post), the Yankees and Aaron Judge have settled on a contract for the 2022 season. No hearing will be had. Figure yet to be announced.

Update 3: According to Mark Feinsand (MLB), the Yankees and Aaron Judge have agreed on a $19 million figure with incentives. Waiting on details.

Update 4: Also coming from Mark Feinsand (MLB), Aaron Judge can earn an additional $250,000 for a 1st place AL MVP finish and another $250,000 for winning the World Series MVP.


Paul Semendinger
Paul Semendinger
Jun 24, 2022

It seems like this would have been a good chance to show a willingness to work with Judge. "We'll give you what you want here, hopefully, you negotiate in good faith with us on the long term deal."

It doesn't seem like that's the case. They split the difference, which is fair, but it might not help them lock him up long term after the season.

It is good though that they didn't actually get to the hearing.

I'm wondering what the odds are that Judge comes back...

Paul Semendinger
Paul Semendinger
Jun 24, 2022
Replying to

Well, this is out of my expertise, so I'll have to agree with your perspective.


Jun 24, 2022

this is a settlement that isn't reached unless both sides are confident that a long-term agreement will be inked.

Robert Malchman
Robert Malchman
Jun 24, 2022
Replying to

I respectfully disagree. The settlement is due to 1) a calculation by both sides as to the risks of going to the hearing (which as I noted below, factor out to 50-50, based on the parties' behavior), and 2) a calculation by the Yankees that they want to try to sign Judge after the season. If they spend several hours denigrating him to get to $17 million, Judge might be sufficiently annoyed to walk or to demand more money for the next contract (what we call in the trade "a [rhymes with 'classroll') tax). I think all it says is that the parties want to leave the door as open as possible to a new deal, not that it w…


Robert Malchman
Robert Malchman
Jun 24, 2022

Settling on the "courthouse steps." I'm well familiar with that phenomenon, and with the end result being a splitting of the difference. The calculus on each side had to be that each had a 50-50 shot at winning (or losing). You multiply likelihood of each outcome times each outcome, add them up, and that's your settlement value. Even the lawyers are happy because they got to bill to prepare everything for the hearing, which is the huge bulk of what would be the total fee to litigate through the hearing.


Jun 24, 2022

Before Opening Day, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said that Judge rejected the Yankees’ offer of a $17-million salary for this season and then a $30.5-million salary for the following seven years. The overall value of the pact would have been $230.5 million.

According to a person with knowledge of the talks, Judge held firm. He wanted $36 million a year and never budged. Mike Trout, widely considered for a long time the best outfielder in the game, makes $36 million a year. Yankees ace Gerrit Cole also makes $36 million a year.

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