So, What’s Judge Going to Do?

Aaron Judge is in his sixth year in the majors. In his final arbitration year before free agency, he will be making $17M. As one of the signature players for the Yankees, they wanted to lock him into a long term deal. He set opening day as the deadline to come to a new deal. One was offered. He rejected it. It happens, so he will likely test the free agent waters this coming offseason. That doesn’t mean he won’t be a Yankee in 2023, of course. They’re still the Yankees, and they can potentially outbid anyone else if they want.

The Yankees GM Brian Cashman announced that the deal Judge turned down was for seven years, and $213.5M…or $30.5M per year. In Judge’s 5 seasons, he has racked up 26.4 WAR, fourth highest among position players in that span. He has hit above 140 OPS+ every season. I’ve seen a report that indicates he wanted something more like the $35M/year Anthony Rendon got from the Angels last year. On the surface it makes some sense, Rendon had 24 WAR in the five years leading up to his free agency. However, Rendon was also younger than Judge and plays a premium defensive position. Aaron Judge is 30, will be 31 next season, and thus the 7-year deal is through the age 38 season. He has also missed over 30 games due to injury in three of his five seasons, including the shortened 2020 year. If he stays healthy this year, it is possible he could exceed what the Yankees offered. If he gets hurt again, it’s not likely. In fact, if one takes what Rendon got as his potential ceiling, and then look for a potential floor offer—say something like what Kris Bryant got from the Rockies this year ($182M, avg $26M/year), his most likely market is about what the Yankees offered. Of course, if he busts out an 8 WAR season like he did when he was the 2017 AL RoY…

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