The Tuesday Discussion: Extending Aaron Judge
This week we asked our writers:
Given his history of repeated injuries, and knowing he is already under contract through his Age-30 season, would you give Aaron Judge a contract extension?
Why or why not?
Our writers responded:
Matthew Cohen – At this point, you are looking at a 7 year deal that would take you through his age 34 season. So you add a year or 2 at peak performance and then 2-3 years of hopefully moderate decline.
If his baseline is 450-500 plate appearances per year, that’s quite a risk.
I think that I would wait it out, which is what Cashman appears to be doing.
Paul Semendinger – Do I need to say (does any Yankees fan need to say) that I think Aaron Judge is awesome? He’s great. I love his approach. I love his skill. He is, in some ways, the Yankees of today. But, would I give him a contract extension? No. I hate saying that. Before I’d extend him, I’d need to see that he can play a full season, maybe two. The continued injuries give me great pause. I just know if he can stay injury free enough to give him a superstar contract in length and salary. I’d rather pay more in 2022 and seeing this out than by offering to buy out those years and the years into his mid-30’s now.
Patrick Gunn – As hard as it is, I would not extend Aaron Judge. When healthy, Judge is one of the best hitters in the game. Key word being when. The fact that he has had major injuries while approaching his thirties and with Giancarlo Stanton already locked up (with little chance that Stanton opts out), I would say that the Yankees should focus on developing Jasson Dominguez and prepping for a future without Aaron Judge.
Michael Saffer – Despite his history of injuries, I would give Aaron Judge an extension because he is one of the faces of the game. When kids talk about MLB, they mention Judge and Mike Trout. Fans of all ages love him. He represents the way a ball player should carry themselves. He interacts with the fans. His jersey is a top seller.
That being said, I am thinking outside the box with his extension offer. It would be an incentive-based contract with salary milestones for playing in x amount of games per season. I would also work into the contract the possibility of being named captain if he meets certain milestones. With interest in baseball declining among younger generations the Yankees need a player like Judge on the team.
Ed Botti – I hate to say it, but no. In order to earn a contract extension he needs to prove that he can stay healthy and play 140 or so games a year. With players such as Stanton, Hicks, and Severino all signed long term, and not playing, it makes it even harder to devote valuable resources to a player, if they can’t stay on the field. If Aaron can, I would offer an extension in a heartbeat. So, I think the Yanks will take it slow, and see how his health plays out. No rush.
Derek McAdam – I believe the Yankees have to hold off giving Judge an extension until the final year of his contract. Even though he may be seen as the “franchise” player, he has had his problems with injuries. Brian Cashman has had some bad contracts riddled by injuries over the past few seasons, and should not jump to an extension unless Judge can figure the injury problem out. If he remains healthy over the next two seasons and can be productive, then maybe a decent four-year extension may be perfect for him. But we have to get to that point first!
Mike Whiteman – I’d like to see the Yankees give Judge a modest extension. Judge’s talent and emerging leadership role within the team warrants locking him up to perhaps age 32. Even with the physical problems he has had, all it takes is one really good season over the next few years to get a monster extension that can hang over a franchise’s neck for a long time. Extending Judge now could keep the Yanks out of an agonizing decision down the road.
There of course is risk in extending Judge, but Judge is the kind of player you take risks with.
Ethan Semendinger – As much as I want to argue in the negative about extending Aaron Judge, even with his substantial loss of playing time (110 games in the past two seasons), he’s still a star. Yet, the problem is that Aaron Judge, by virtue of having an insane rookie season in 2017 and playing in the biggest market in the USA, has become a superstar. The big problem is that Aaron Judge is not a superstar because of how often he is injured/missing time, and we have to start seeing him as just a star player. (If he is healthy he is a superstar, which is the problem.)
Aaron Judge these past two seasons averaged 5.5 bWAR (4.85 fWAR), even considering how much time he has missed. On the open market, each WAR is worth about $8 to $10 Million. At the lower-bound, Judge has been worth about $38.8 Million per year and at the upper-bound he has been worth about $55 Million per year. Given this, I’d offer Judge a contract extension, and I think the Yankees can get a good team deal with him by stressing how impactful his injuries are on the team.