Is Yankees Superstar Aaron Judge Playing His Way Out Of Bronx?

Judge is playing for a substantial raise this offseason

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Could Aaron Judge’s time in pinstripes be numbered? That reality could come to fruition should a pair of trends continue.

The New York Yankees superstar right fielder picked a great time for what could become a career year, as he’s set to become a free agent at the end of the season. So far, Judge is hitting .314 with a league-leading 17 home runs, 34 RBI and a 1.079 OPS. He also leads the MLB in runs scored (35) and total bases (108).

His season is garnering attention as a potential MVP frontrunner, though it is still May. Either way, his season is off to about as strong of a start as possible, and the Yankees are seeing the results. The Bronx Bombers are the first team to 30 wins this season behind Judge’s dominant season.

The better Judge plays, the more complicated it could get between his representation and Yankee’s general manager Brian Cashman, who initially offered a seven-year deal worth $213.5 million that would begin in the 2023 season. That contract would have an annual average value (AAV) of $30.5 million.

Judge has reportedly requested an eight-year contract, not far off from what Cashman offered. Where the two sides differ is on the AAV of the contract. The 30-year-old slugger reportedly is seeking an AAV in the range of $36 million according to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal.

That puts Judge’s counter-offer in the range of an eight-year deal worth $288 million, meaning the two sides are one year and $74.5 million apart. The longer Judge can maintain his current level of play, the more realistic it is that he could command or even exceed what he was originally looking for in prior negotiations.

Cashman will already have the massive contracts of Gerrit Cole and Giancarlo Stanton on the books, who are each owed over $30 million per year long-term, while Josh Donaldson will cost $21 million in 2023 and D.J. LeMahieu another $15 million per year through 2026. Anthony Rizzo’s $16 million club option could complicate matters as well.

There’s already speculation that the Judge’s hometown San Francisco Giants could be willing to invest heavily in the slugger. It’s only May, and more teams will come out of the woodwork as the offseason comes into focus.

The upcoming free-agent class lacks the superstar firepower of recent years. Judge will be the hottest commodity even if Minnesota Twins shortstop Carlos Correa opts out of his deal.

It might not be wise to bet against Judge remaining in pinstripes long term, but there’s a clear path toward the two sides parting ways over the winter.

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