How the Trea Turner Deal Impacts a Judge Offer
by Cary Greene
December 6, 2022
Trea Turner, who is 14-months younger than Aaron Judge, recently signed on the dotted line with the Phillies, inking an 11-year deal for $300-million that will provide security for him until his age-40 season. The latest rumors indicate that Brian Cashman and the Yankees recently presented a new, 9-year offer to Judge that parallels the 12-year deal that the Dodgers gave right fielder Mookie Betts, who was 28-years-old prior to the start of the 2021 season. A nine-year proposal would carry Judge through what would be his age 39-season.
With Turner setting this year’s offseason position player market, Judge is now in position to do what I have predicted since this summer. He will most certainly ask for a 10th-year and he will assuredly get it. Whichever team winds up signing Judge, will have to get creative with how the back end of his contract winds up looking, but since Judge holds all of the bargaining leverage and essentially has a bidding war going on between the Giants and the Yankees, he’s in position to simply state what he wants and a fair deal, in this year’s market and pertaining to the premier free agent - is a deal that provides security for Judge through his age-40 season.
The matter of AAV will be the final sticking point. If we look at how the AAV in the Mookie Betts contract is structured, there were two-years at $17.5m that covered his age-28 and age-29 seasons, one year at $20m for his age 30-season (which will be for the upcoming season - 2023), then four -years at $25m which spans his age-31 to age-34 seasons, followed by three-years at $30-m to cover his age-35 to age-37 years. Then, the back-end of the deal has two $27.5m years which give Betts coverage through his age-38 and age-39 seasons.
Meanwhile, Trea Turner's contract is very straightforward in terms of the sum that Turner is to be paid for each season, he’ll earn a straight $27.272m per season through his age-40 season. Since Judge is sitting on the very peak of the free agent mountain this offseason, he can easily make a case for a contract that pays him through his age-40 season. Turner’s recent deal puts the one Betts signed in the 2020 offseason firmly in the rear-view mirror. Yankees fans who are surprised by this development should consider Judge’s production over his time in pinstripes. Judge has averaged 49 home-runs, 110 RBI’s and an OPS+ of 163 during his young, 7-year career to date and these numbers include the Pandemic-shortened 2020 season. According to FanGraphs, Judge’s production, as measured in f-Dollars, has been worth $41.2-m per season, which means if he was being paid as a free agent for each of the seasons he’s played to date, that’s how much he’d have been worth.
Yankees fans should also consider that per Sportac, Judge has only been paid $36.1-m career-to-date - which averages out to an AAV of $5.1-m. That means the Yankees have received a net-positive in production-value of $36.1-m for the past seven seasons - or approximately $253-m in total. Considering all of this value Judge has already given the Yankees, why quibble over a tenth year? Considering the big picture, it wouldn’t be remotely fair for the Yankees to have profited this handsomely off of Judge and then decide they think 10-years is one year more than they’re comfortable offering. I don’t think Brian Cashman would have a leg to stand on if he even remotely suggested he wasn’t okay with where the market presently has adjusted to, courtesy of the contract the Phillies and Trea Turner just agreed to.
It’s all happened as I’ve been saying it would, since this summer. Let’s frame what Judge will get and I’ll wrap things up with this for a final thought: Aaron Judge will get a 10-year contract, with an AAV of between $37.5-m and $43-m, the total value of which will be between $375.5-m and $425-m which will make Aaron Judge the proud recipient of a MLB record contract.
In my previous series of articles, Part-One, Part-Two, Part-Three , Part-Four, Part-Five and Part-Six of "Plan-B, Life Without Judge,” I established a positionally better balanced team that could contend for a World Series championship in a rather apocalyptic “Life without Judge” scenario.
Sans Judge, the Yankees could sign Xander Bogaerts who MLB insiders Jeff Passan and Buster Onley have both very quietly connected the Yankees to recently. On Friday, December Second Passan wrote, “The Dodgers, Cubs and D-backs are eyeing Bogaerts as well and Bogaerts has also been linked to the Padres, Twins and Yankees.”
Prior to Passan’s mentioning that the Yankees have interest in Bogaerts, Buster Onley was the first (besides me of course) to suggest Bogaerts makes sense for the Yankees. Onley said, “The Yankees number-one offseason objective remains to re-sign Aaron Judge. The team has reportedly increased its offer to the AL MVP to somewhere around eight years and $300-million. But, if another team such as the Giants comes in over the top with an offer Judge simply can’t refuse, might the Yankees pivot to the star-studded shortstop market and try to fill the void left behind by making Bogaerts their top target?” “It wouldn’t shock me.”
With Bogaerts signed, the Yankees could also add Andrew Benintendi and Masataka Yoshida to provide firepower in the outfield and Matt Carpenter could be added very reasonably to give the Yankees a left-handed, dead-pull power hitter. The Yankees “Plan-B” lineup could look like this:
1. LeMahieu 2B– Peraza/Cabrera
2. Benintendi LF– Cabrera/Yoshida
3. Bogaerts SS– Peraza/Cabrera
4. Stanton RF– Cabrera/Yoshida
5. Rizzo 1B – LeMahieu/Carpenter
6. Donaldson 3B – Peraza/Cabrera/LeMahieu
7. Carpenter DH– Yoshida/Stanton
8. Trevino C – Higashioka
9. Bader CF – Peraza
Bench: Cabrera, Peraza, Yoshida, Higashioka
Yankees GM Brian Cashman could then target a top-shelf starter to bolster the Yankees starting rotation. Most of the real buzz on this front, which is viewed by insiders as being prioritized by the Yankees in a different swim-lane altogether from Judge, connects the Yankees most strongly to Carlos Rodon, Kodai Senga and Justin Verlander.
Short of pulling off a blockbuster trade for the Angel’s Shohei Ohtani, who has always been a near-perfect fit for the Yankees, increasing the 2023 payroll by a combined $40-million to $57-million is the price to build a true contender. Since Cashman, as I mentioned, passed on the reasonable Tyler Anderson, who only cost an AAV of $13-million, the price to be paid for a World Series capable rotation is now substantially higher.
Adding $40 to $57-million to my “Plan-B, Life without Judge” scenario budget that already stands in the First-Tier of the Threshold at $245-million, means Hal Steinbrenner would be looking at a $285 to $302-million payroll for 2023. This would propel the payroll from Tier-One towards the top of Tier-Three. The tax-rate that would be assessed to the Yankees in Tier-Three is 74.5-percent, so on a spend of say $293-million, which would mean spending at the very top of Tier-Three’s cutoff, Steinbrenner would pay $44.7-million in Luxury Taxes.
However, adding Rodon, Senga, Bogaerts, Benintendi, Yoshida and Carpenter to an existing core that has seen Hicks, Torres, Montas, German and Florial all traded creates a roster that is better balanced offensively and more able to make impactful contact and better suited to dominate with a pitching-first approach in the playoffs.
Based on having so many relievers with various stages of injuries, the Yankees would need to find a way to creatively fill the bullpen, but there exists plenty of depth to do that and Cashman usually hordes fringy relievers so I’m sure if the Yankees needed to dip into their depth here or there, it wouldn’t be much of a problem.
The 2024 plan would be to continue to implement the partial youth-movement. Candidates to help the big league team in 2024 include Trey Sweeney, Anthony Volpe, Austin Wells, Jasson Dominguez, Everson Pereira - barring any blockbuster trades. The Yankees currently have almost $100-million coming off the books ahead of the 2024 season. I added six free agents, so that number changes quite a bit, but the Yankees would actually be under the 2024 threshold so if Hal Steinbrenner wanted to do a reset, it would be easily possible. Again - all this is possible without Aaron Judge.
In addition to the lineup listed a the start of this article, I’ll leave you with a glimpse of a World Series favorites starting rotation:
1. Gerrit Cole
2. Carlos Rodon
3. Koudai Senga
4. Nestor Cortes Jr
5. Luis Severino – Clarke Schmidt / Luis Gil / Will Warren / Clayton Beeter / Yoendrys Gomez/Randy Vasquez..etc (all for depth)