The Tuesday Discussion: Aaron Judge
November 1, 2022
This week we posed the following to our writers:
The big off-season question is what will happen with Aaron Judge.
Today you run the Yankees. Please share the best offer that you'd make for Aaron Judge to remain a Yankee.
Here are their replies:
Tim Kabel - I would offer Aaron Judge $40 million dollars a year for eight years, with a mutual option for $40 million for the ninth year and a team option for $40 million for the tenth year.
Mike Whiteman - If I ran the Yankees, I offer Aaron Judge a seven year, $273 million policy, with options for year eight and nine, and an opt out for him after two years.
Ethan Semendinger - Aaron Judge is set to become a very rich man. If I ran the Yankees, I'd be willing to make him a rich man, and a man richer than most. However, I would not willing to give Aaron Judge the power with a blank check.
If we consider each WAR to be worth $9 Million on the open market, this is how much WAR he'd need to produce to at various contract sizes and over a 7/8/9 year deal (with AAV's):
$250 Million = 27.8 WAR - 4.0/3.5/3.1 ~ $35.7M/$31.3M/$27.8M
$275 Million = 30.5 WAR - 4.4/3.8/3.4 ~ $39.3M/$34.4M/$30.6M
$300 Million = 33.3 WAR - 4.8/4.2/3.7 ~ $42.9M/$37.5M/$33.3M
$325 Million = 36.1 WAR - 5.2/4.5/4.0 ~ $46.4M/$40.6M/$36.1M
$350 Million = 38.9 WAR - 5.6/4.9/4.3 ~ $50.0M/$43.8M/$38.9M
$375 Million = 41.7 WAR - 6.0/5.2/4.6 ~ $53.6M/$46.9M/$41.7M
$400 Million = 44.4 WAR - 6.3/5.6/4.9 ~ $57.1M/$50.0M/$44.4M
Now, we can look at those numbers we can obviously take away the outliers. Judge won't sign under $300 Million. I would not offer a contract larger than 8 years or $40 Million per year. That gives us one contract size I would be willing to offer Judge: 8 Years/$300 Million.
He would get an average of $37.5 Million per year and need to produce 33.3 WAR (4.2 WAR/year) to make the contract worth it on the open market. I could see him beating this: starting with an 8 WAR year in 2023 and losing 1 WAR each year remaining on his deal (8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 = 36), but unlikely. He averages 7.9 WAR/650 PA's (he's only reach 650 PA's twice in 6 years) and I can't see him aging gracefully. He could make 33 WAR by playing his average (6.2 WAR) in the rest of his peak (ages 31-33) and then losing 1 WAR per year remaining (5-4-3-2-1) to give him 33.6 WAR. But again, this means Judge was extremely healthy and consistent as he ages. (Not likely.) It'd be a risk.
Judge wouldn't accept my 8/$300M. I'd give him a fair contract for a player signing to play through his 30's and through his decline, but I would not be willing to shell out any and everything to keep him around. The Yankees are a business. I understand the business of keeping Judge around to make him a Yankee legend forever more, but he's too old and too injury prone for me to want to go all-in on him. 8/$300 Million is fair. Take it or leave it.
Paul Semendinger - I will have a longer Aron Judge piece coming in the weeks ahead with lots of thoughts, but let me, for this article, just hit upon some quick points.
First, the 2023 Yankees need Aaron Judge. Without him, they will not be a contender.
Second, I'd like Judge to remain a Yankee forever.
Third, unless, Hal Steinbrenner states that he's willing to build a great team around Aaron Judge, which would mean exceeding the luxury cap thresholds, I don't think the Yankees have what it takes to contend.
As such, the questions isn't just, "Will they bring back Aaron Judge? but it is "Will they also build a well-rounded team to support him?" (I'm not convinced they will.)
If it was my decision, I would give Aaron Judge seven years. I'd be willing to have that contract average $40 million for the seven years. That's a big overpay, but I'd do that to keep him. If $280 million isn't enough for Aaron Judge to stay a lifelong Yankee (or at least a Yankee into his late 30's) then, I would be very comfortable letting him leave. I believe the back-end of the contract will be a huge overpay.
To sort-of give the team some insurance for the back-end years, I'd have the big money for Judge coming in the first years of the deal. I might structure the deal as follows:
Year 1 = $45m
Year 2 = $45m
Year 3 = $42m
Year 4 = $40m
Year 5 = $38m
Year 6 = $35m
Year 7 = $35m
That's $280 million. My goodness. If you want to be a lifelong Yankee, if that's not good enough, I don't know what is. Judge isn't a player in his 20's. He's in his 30's already. To me, this offer is more than generous. I think it's actually an overpay, but I'd do it to keep him a Yankee.
If Judge insists on an eighth year, I'd say, "OK, but it'll just be for $20 million." Then he could have a $300m contract, but I also wouldn't be paying top dollars (as much) for his decline years that will certainly come.
Finally, if another team gives him more money or more years, I'd say, "Good luck, have fun." There would be no hard feelings from me. In fact, I think, in some real regards, I'd breathe a sigh of relief. Most big time long contracts, especially for players in their 30's, just don't work out.
Lincoln Mitchell - I have written about this question more extensively in an earlier article, but will summarize my views here. If I ran the Yankees, I would only pursue Judge if I was planning to add other players as well. Keeping both Judge and Rizzo and doing nothing else is a foolish strategy. However, if I was genuinely committed to building the team, I would make Judge two offers. The first would be 4 years for a total of $240 million. The second would be ten years for $330 million. If he agreed to either, I would keep him. Then I would go out and sign Rizzo, an ace pitcher and find a left-handed bat somewhere.
Cary Greene - My strategy to sign Aaron Judge is to let his agent, Page Odle know that we realize our 6-year, $30.5-million per year offer our former GM (who is no longer with the organization) made was insufficient. I would ask to speak with Aaron personally to apologize for what happened and to let him know that the Yankees feel he is not only the best player in the game, but that he is the very face of our franchise.
If Aaron Judge was willing to listen, I would then ask him if would still potentially be interested in returning and if the answer was sincerely affirmative, I'd ask him what kind of offer it would take to get a deal signed as quickly as possible?
The reason I would want to sign Aaron Judge quickly and early in the offseason is because if I failed to sign him over a long, drawn out process in which he was using the Yankees for leverage to get an even bigger contract from some other team, many of the game's top free agents might no longer be available. Where would I be able to turn, if I failed to sign Aaron Judge?
Hopefully, his side would already have a contract length and dollar amount in mind. I would be unwilling to play the, "Make us an offer and we'll get back to you game." If his camp went that direction, no offer would come from the Yankees side.
However, if Judge were sincere in his intent to be a Yankee for life, I would be prepared to circumvent the need to play games and with no need for haggling, I'd make Judge the highest paid player in the game annually and I'd even be willing to give him up to 10-years. In short, I'd be all-in for $440-million, which would give him an AAV that eclipses Max Scherzer.
If it turned out that Aaron Judge wasn't satisfied with my offer, I would regretfully pass and instead, I'd spend my resources elsewhere, knowing that I had made a superb offer but that the team needs a star shortstop, an upgraded bullpen, a better starting rotation and potentially a few outfielders. Basically, I'd allocate my resources elsewhere at that point.
Any team would like to have Aaron Judge but the reality is, only a few can afford what he wants to be paid and how many of those teams will be willing to pay him that amount? I'd personally very much like to avoid engaging in a bidding war, mainly because the team does have a number of other high-priority needs.
Derek McAdam - My longer article on this is coming out tomorrow at 6:00 a.m., but I'll offer a quick preview here...
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.