Brian Cashman said this many years ago, and it has never changed: desperation drives free agency. team wants – needs – A player so bad he will spend whatever it takes to get him, and the salaries are getting higher and higher.
Aaron Judge’s new $360 million contract agreement with the Yankees, subject to a physical, will pay him an average of $40 million per season over the next nine years. It is the richest trade in Yankees history and the highest salary ever for any player.
Ticket prices are based on what the market will bear, not what owners need to cover their salaries. Unless you’re worried about how Hal Steinbrenner will spend his fortune, you should rejoice if you love the Yankees.
Cashman, the Yankees’ general manager, revealed on the final Opening Day that Judge had turned down the team’s offer of a $30.5 million-a-year, seven-year contract. Judge then hit 62 home runs, more than Babe Ruth in 1927, more than Roger Maris in 1961, more than any other player in American League history.
The most emphatic thing was, “Okay, watch this is! response since Ruth referred to the bleachers in the 1932 World Series at Wrigley Field. Only this wasn’t a mob of rowdy Chicago Cubs bothering a hitter who was missing out. This was a front office trying to be pragmatic with a slow guy who was up to his senior year. in pinstripe lines.
Neither of them fired their shot, not exactly. But it takes a healthy ego and showmanship to suck out a perceived insult, tell the world you’re going to do something about it, and then move on. Here’s what we saw from Judge in 2022.
The flashy stats, which included the major league best numbers in on-base percentage (.425), slugging percentage (.686), runs (133), runs batted in (131) and total bases (391), added to his 360 million contract. dollar. Betting on himself, Judge took a raise of $146.5 million—more than the salaries of 14 teams last season—from the Yankees’ April bid.
He also led the Yankees to an AL East title, keeping the team at the top of the standings when injuries and struggles plagued the rest of the roster. It was only the Yankees’ second title in the 10 seasons since Derek Jeter’s last playoff hit in 2012. Judge should soon become the team’s first captain since Jeter. He has been the club’s undisputed captain for years, and is now primarily committed to spending his career in the Bronx.
Judge grew up in Linden, California, and has been rooting for Barry Bonds and the San Francisco Giants. They wanted it badly. So did the San Diego Padres, who have a magnetic allure to all-stars these days. But the Yankees needed the judge the most, and they translated that into dollars.
This was always the most reasonable outcome. Judge did everything he could to earn the right to be the highest-paid player in the sport, and to top off Gerrit Cole’s nine-year, $324 million deal, which was the richest in Yankees history. And it seemed all along, then, that the minimum contract would be nine years and $333 million—that’s $37 million a year.
Factor in open market competition, full appeals of $40 million annually, and there you have it: $360 million for nine years, through 2031, when the judge turns 39.
It’s really reasonable to think that Judge could still be productive at that age. 21 different players have hit at least 25 batters in a season at the age of 39 or older, including five in the past decade: Raul Ibañez, David Ortiz (twice), Alex Rodriguez, Carlos Beltrán and Nelson Cruz.
But for the Yankees, this decade isn’t about Judge’s productivity in the early 2000s. It’s about winning the championship of the decade. They missed the World Series in 2010 for the first calendar decade since 1910. Such desperation.
With recessions going, of course, it wasn’t that bad. Since their last World Series in 2009, when they won their last championship, the Yankees have been the best team in the AL to date. They’ve racked up an unprecedented 1,145 victories in those 13 seasons, 59 more than the Tampa Bay Rays, who are second in the AL. Only the Los Angeles Dodgers have more regular season wins in that span.
Judge has helped the Yankees reach the postseason in all of his six full seasons. In 44 playoff games, he hit . 211 with 13 home runs and 66 strikeouts. Basically, he hits a little more and hits fewer home runs than he does in the regular season. He has to be better in those moments, and craves more opportunities.
Last month, the night he won the AL Most Valuable Player award, Judge said.
“So the most important thing for me is that I want to be in a winning culture and a team that’s committed to winning — not just for the remainder of my football career, but I want a legacy to kind of live on with any organization.”
Yankees have culture and commitment. The judge has a contract confirming his position in the game hierarchy. The hard part continues: the pursuit of an elusive championship, and the lofty legacy that comes with it.