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The Aaron Judge Contract Dilemma

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Aaron Judge is entering the most crucial offseason of his major league career. He has said publicly many times that he wants to remain with the New York Yankees until the day he retires, and these next few months could determine what his future holds. The Bronx has embraced Judge as the face of the Yankees. Judge believes he can help lead the Yankees to a World Series title in the near future, and the city, for the most part, believes that he is the one that can do it. Time could be running out if he does not get a contract extension this year, but that is easier said than done.

Aaron Judge Contract Details

Aaron Judge is entering the final year of arbitration with the New York Yankees. He made just over ten million dollars last season and would get a significant increase this year even if he is not extended. He is set to become an unrestricted free agent following the 2022 season. If the Yankees are going to lock up Judge for the next several years, it is in everyone’s best interest to do so before he reaches free agency. He will likely be much more expensive if other teams are bidding on him in addition to the Yankees.

It is a complete unknown right now exactly how much money and how many years Aaron Judge is looking for in his next contract. It is also unclear what the organization is willing to offer him. He is currently 29 years old and will be 30 at the beginning of the 2022 Major League Baseball season. He is still in the prime years of his career but could begin to regress somewhere over the next couple of years. Perhaps just rumors at this point, but there is speculation that the contract could be somewhere in the range of five years and upwards of 200 million dollars.

One factor that makes this offseason a bit trickier than most is the situation with the expiring collective bargaining agreement. Nobody knows what the new agreement will look like. It is also a complete mystery as to when it will go into effect. There is a real possibility of a work stoppage or a disruption in any types of contract negotiations. This could be added motivation for Judge and the front office to get a deal now while things are still guaranteed. Waiting for a new CBA is a total gamble for everyone involved.

The Value of Aaron Judge

The value of Aaron Judge as the leader of the New York Yankees cannot be measured, but his numbers can. In 2021, Judge was selected to his third all-star game and had his best statistical season since 2017 when he won American League Rookie of the Year and finished in second place in the AL Most Valuable Player voting. He was the best player on the Yankees in the 2021 MLB season and one of the best players in the American League. In addition to the elite hitting, he also increased his value by filling in at center field when needed and playing it very well.

Judge has demonstrated incredible talent with New York. The skills have never really been the issue, but rather it has been his availability. From 2018 through 2020, he missed a significant amount of games due to various injuries. That is a major concern when dealing with a player that is going to command the type of contract that Judge will get. He really helped his own case this season by paying in 148 of the Yankees 162 games. He will be able to use this as an example of durability when negotiating his contract.

Conclusion

All things considered, the 2021 MLB season was exactly what Judge needed to solidify his value in contract negotiations. With the mysteries of the new CBA and the potential issues it could bring with it, it would be wise to try and work out a deal before that happens. From Judge’s angle, now is the perfect time for him to get the best deal possible after the productive and consistent 2021 campaign. From the New York Yankees perspective, if they want to retain him, now is better than later because of the exclusivity of negotiating. The clock is officially ticking.


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Adam Hulse is a baseball writer at Overtime Heroics. He is also the host of his own Podcast titled: Sports Talk with Adam Hulse