Until this season, New York Yankees fans haven’t had to think much about in regards to Aaron Judge and his contract situation. He has been beloved by the ‘Judge’s Chambers’ for years and his fans will always appreciate the way he has played during his tenure. When healthy, Judge may have an argument for being a top five player in baseball. None of this has stopped a significant fraction of fans begin to turn on him based off the recently-publicized negotiation update.
According to Brian Cashman, Judge has turned down a seven-year, $213 million deal. Judge confirmed these reports and stated, “I will speak to 30 teams in the offseason and the Yankees will be one of them”. Some choose to have a short-term memory as it pertains to Yankees negotiations and have yet to accept the league as it is.
It is an easy and uninformed argument to shame Judge for being “greedy”, coupled with the statement that $213 million is plenty of money. Of course, $213 million is plenty of money and one could survive and get by just fine, but the reality is that the economy of the MLB simply isn’t the same as the American economy. The agents of Judge are looking at the money being dished out to other talents. They can look no further than the nine-year, $324 million deal that was given to former rival Gerrit Cole. Judge understands his worth in pinstripes. He has been the face of the team and carries more value than just the on-field production.
Salaries are increasing on an annual basis and Judge is unlikely to ever have another opportunity to score a major contract in his career. One could argue that Judge should have accepted the offer, given his injury history, but the fans are not the one that will be cashing the checks. Judge did not grow up in New York, therefore there isn’t any “hometown discount” he’s required to give the team.
At age 36, Derek Jeter turned down a four-year $100 million deal to remain with the Yankees in hopes of signing a six-year deal. Jeter turned down a $25 million annual salary, which was extremely rare during that 2010 era. He ultimately signed with New York for a three-year, $51 million deal after testing his value on the open market and signed a one-year, $12 million deal to close out his career with the Yankees. Jeter wasn’t labeled as being greedy, because it was simply a business negotiation. That situation is similar, except one would figure that Judge still has more offer than Jeter had during those years.
For now, fans should accept and appreciate that Judge is focused on putting negotiations aside, while putting all of his focus into the 2022 MLB season. We should look forward the fruits of a motivated Judge, who will be looking to make a case for his asking price, which is rumored to be Trout-esque. This could be the last season of Judge in pinstripes and it’s best to show him appreciation for how he has handled being the face of one of the most viscous fan bases in sports.