In the end, the Yankees didn’t just stick with Aaron Judge. They held on for dear life.
The Yankees threw Judge crazy money and a crazy contract because they had to, because they couldn’t lose their star and the face of the franchise and 62 home runs, because if they didn’t hang onto him, they would plan to annoy his fan base more than they already are. In every possible way, the Yankees could not afford to swing and miss with Aaron Judge.
They gave the Judge $360 million and nine yearsthat takes him to age 40 and hopefully he didn’t look as old as Albert Pujols at the end of the long and expensive contract the Angels once gave him, which is older than the George Washington Bridge before. Pujols’ final shot with his old team, the Cardinals, last season.
Again and again: Judge stays because the Yankees simply couldn’t afford to let him go, not at a time when he’s gone 13 years without winning a World Series or even playing in one , despite all the money Hal Steinbrenner spent — that allowed general manager Brian Cashman to spend — on baseball players.
There was a notion in the Yankee media that somehow Judge would have disappeared into the fog if he had gone home to play for the Giants. Right. I understand. Even people in outer space know the Giants have won three World Series since the Yankees last played in one, in addition to winning 107 games two years ago.
The Yankees are spending big, big money at a time when Steve Cohen and the Mets have spent bigger, shorter money on Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander the last two baseball winters. We’ll see how that works out for both sides next season, even if neither side is done spending, long or short. All we know for now is that the Yankees spent about $150 million more on Judge than they offered him in the spring.
Their $213 million offer at the time wasn’t outrageous considering how many games Judge missed between 2018 and 220. But the way the Yankees handled things was both clumsy and desperation to somehow provide cover. And we’re now learning, from Judge himself, just how annoyed Judge was when the Yankees rushed to publicize the offer he had turned down.
“I kind of said, ‘Hey, let’s keep this between us,'” Judge told Time Magazine. “I was a bit upset that the numbers came out. I understand it’s a negotiating tactic. Put pressure on me. Turn the fans against me, turn the media against me. I didn’t like that part of it.”
But now all’s well that ends well, especially for Judge, who became the biggest star in his own sport and the biggest star in all of sports when he finally caught Babe Ruth at 60 homer and then passed by Ruth; before catching Roger Maris at 61 and eventually surpassing Maris, with one of the most famous swings in Yankee history and baseball history. Judge became their sweetheart, towering over baseball last season like Ruth did in the 1920s, turning every trip to the plate and every swing into something no one wanted to miss.
So the Yankees don’t swing and miss with this guy. The Yankees feel like they’re getting something big without losing No. 99. They can’t worry about what kind of hitter Judge will be on the back end of the trade. They don’t want to think about what the back end of the deal might look like. They can only hope he can hit at least as well as All-American Alex Rodriguez hit his 40th year as he neared the end of a 10-year deal he signed with Yankees after he quit. old contract with the Rangers during the 2007 World Series.
The Yankees are spending that kind of money on him next season with the money they’re already spending on Gerrit Cole, and the money they’re spending on Giancarlo Stanton on the remainder of the contract they brought him from the Marlins. We’re talking about a roster that now has three guys working on contracts that were originally worth less than $300 million. At least in this area, the Yankees are still world champions.
But here’s the thing about sports, even when you’re making that kind of noise hanging on to one of your own: You’re either heading toward the championship trophy or you’re walking away from it. All the Yankees did Wednesday, for a very large tab, was hold their ground. Coming off a postseason when The Astros swept them down a ladder in the American League Championship Seriesand looked superior everywhere except Aaron Judge.
After all the money Steinbrenner and Cashman are spending on Judge, it will be interesting how much more money they can spend and where they can spend it as they try to get better than the Astros in the American League and try to stay better. than the Cleveland Guardians, which is all there has been in the division series between the two teams.
For now, though, Yankee fans are heaving a sigh of relief as big as the big man, because he’s not going to play baseball for the next decade in San Francisco. Judge doesn’t become the greatest Yankee to ever walk away from the Yankees in his prime. It should never have come to this, of course. The Yankees get their man—they get to keep their man—anyway. They were the ones who rose with All Rise for the best possible reason. They had no choice.