Should the Yankees Keep Aaron Judge?
By Derek McAdam
November 2, 2022
While the Yankees’ season is officially over, it is now time for the biggest question mark of the MLB off-season: Does Aaron Judge remain a New York Yankee or does he select another team in free agency? Sadly enough, for Yankee fans’, this may be one of the hardest pills to swallow if Judge decides to leave in free agency, and may possibly be a tough pill to swallow even if the Yankees decide to keep him, barring a lucrative contract.
So let’s make the case for the Yankees both keeping the All-Star outfielder and also for letting him walk in free agency.
First, Judge is coming off a career-year in every sense of the word, hitting .311 with 62 home runs and 131 RBIs and leading the AL in almost every hitting category besides batting average. Judge not only was a force at the plate, but gave the Yankees 78 games in centerfield in addition to 73 games in right field. Judge carried the team through some of its slumps in the season and was able to play in 157 games for the Yankees during the regular season.
There is no question that Judge had one of the best statistical seasons that has ever existed. His magical season will likely give him an MVP award to add to his resume for potential suitors in free agency. The 30-year old is going to get a huge payday regardless of where he goes, and congratulations to him for that great accomplishment.
Here are the reasons why the Yankees should keep Aaron Judge. First, Judge has been the poster boy for the Yankees since his 2017 rookie campaign. Yankee Stadium has the "Judge’s Chambers” in the outfield and there are not many baseball fans in general that can say a bad thing about Judge (besides maybe him not playing for their favorite team.) Not many players in the league have such a positive reputation, but Judge is definitely one of those few.
Second, Judge has proven that he can play in the Bronx. Yes, I know exactly what you’re thinking. “Judge struggled in the post-season, and that’s the only thing that matters.” Yes and no. Yes, Judge absolutely had a sluggish post-season, but Judge didn’t have a huge slump at any point in the year, even when the entire Yankee team was slumping out of the All Star Break.. His batting average did decline during September in chase for home run No. 62, but he was still working plenty of walks. Getting on base is always a good sign. Overall, Judge is an elite hitter, and while he strikes out a lot, he can still produce at a high rate for the Yankees.
But here are some reasons why the Yankees may not want to keep Judge. First, Judge will be 31 at the end of April and will most likely demand a contract that will be the last contract he signs. The Yankees should not be willing to give in to this, considering a deal may be eight or nine years. That’s a lot of commitment to a player that is in his 30s and who plays the outfield.
Second, it is going to take a lot of money. The Yankees’ offer of seven-years, $213.5 million was not a bad offer. Judge bet on himself and ended up making the best of the situation. There is no question that he will get more than $213.5 million at this point, and may even potentially get an extra year or two. The Yankees already have two players that are making over $30 million per year and are still on the books for another few years. Adding a third player would make the cap situation worse, considering this is a team that has not accomplished the desired post season success under Aaron Boone.
For these reasons, I do not believe the Yankees should do everything they can to keep Judge, unless they can give him less years or trade away some players with larger caps to free up some space. I have no problem with giving him more money for a shorter-term contract, but Judge is probably not in a situation for that type of deal. Yes, it is going to be hard to watch Judge on a different team, especially over the next couple of years where he still still be able to produce.
But in the long term, this might be the best move for the Yankee organization. The Yankees should invest their money in multiple positions instead of putting all their eggs into one basket with Judge.