Baseball

5 Potential Landing Spots for Aaron Judge

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In 2022, Aaron Judge ripped off one of the greatest contract-year seasons in sports history. Instead of re-signing with the New York Yankees before the season began, Judge opted to bet on himself, and it worked fabulously. Judge likely earned himself tens of millions of dollars more, if not nine extra figures on his contract. However, who will sign the reigning AL MVP?

New York Yankees

The Yankees seem like the easy answer for Judge’s future. Even with the Yankees’ storied history, Judge has already rewritten the history books. In 2022, he set the Yankees record for home runs in a season, launching 62. Additionally, he posted top-10 seasons in Yankees history in WAR and total bases.

Looking at his full career, Judge will break into the upper echelons shortly. He is 5.4 WAR from being a top 20 Yankee hitter ever. His 220 home runs rank 12th in franchise history, and he would likely move into the top seven by the end of 2024. Staying with the Yankees could lead to a retired No. 99 joining the likes of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and Mickey Mantle after the contract is over.

San Francisco Giants

The Giants make the Judge sweepstakes something of a two-horse race. Judge is from Linden, California, and he went to school at Fresno State. The Giants would be considered Judge’s home team. The Giants finished 81-81 last year, but they are just one year removed from winning 107 games and being the best team in baseball. The Giants have a .565 winning percentage under Gabe Kapler, and Judge would only help.

For Judge’s baseball skills, San Francisco is a double-edged sword. On one hand, Judge would have a gargantuan outfield to flash his leather whether he plays center or right. On the other hand, Oracle Park is cavernous, and Judge could lose out on some home runs. Oracle Park is just one of three ballparks (Kauffman and Comerica) where Judge would have 40 fewer expected home runs than his combined career total of 233. However, toppling any of Barry Bonds’ records while playing for the Giants could be an allure.

New York Mets

The Mets began the second tier of the Judge sweepstakes. They are free spenders in a huge market – a market that Judge already inhabits. Assuming the Mets retain Jacob deGrom, they are a perennial contender, and Judge would combine with Pete Alonso to form the most feared power duo in MLB. The Mets could opt to play Judge or Starling Marte in center with the other playing in right.

On the field, Judge would have to deal with a compromised run environment at Citi Field, but he could be the leader on a team that snaps a World Series drought dating back to 1986. Judge could quickly ascend to cult hero status if he delivers a World Series to Queens.

Los Angeles Dodgers

The Dodgers do need a center fielder after not extending Cody Bellinger. Mookie Betts has played in center before, but an outfield with both Betts and Judge would be bafflingly dominant. The Dodgers would once again trot out three recent MVPs in most of their lineups with Betts, Judge, and Freddie Freeman. The Dodgers won 111 games, and they would probably be even better with Judge.

Dodger Stadium is a marginal upgrade over the average ballpark, so Judge could take aim at the National League home run records. Being in such a deep and dominant lineup would likely also add to Judge’s yearly counting stats. Los Angeles might not have the same sentimental value as New York or San Francisco would for Judge, but it would be an obvious choice for winning and stats.

Boston Red Sox

If Judge wants to walk down the villain path, welcome to the Red Sox! Boston is a clear step below what the previous four teams offer, but they will likely spend any amount, and they have a recent history of winning. The Red Sox did have a rough 2022 season, finishing below .500. However, they have something of a core with the likes of Trevor Story and Rafael Devers. Signing Judge would likely come at the cost of retaining Xander Bogaerts.

Judge versus the Green Monster might become the best rivalry in baseball. As a right-handed hitter, Judge would lose plenty of his line-drive home runs, but every ball that finds its way over the wall would be highlight reel worthy. Judge would also get the thankless task of (likely) playing in a large right field.

Verdict

The Yankees are obvious favorites, but the Giants are a serious threat to the 30-year-old superstar. The Red Sox can likely be discarded, but the Dodgers and Mets could entice Judge with their excellent 2022 seasons and deep pockets.

main image credit: Embed from Getty Images

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Ryan Potts is an avid football and baseball fan. He covers the NFL and Major League Baseball, focusing on the Baltimore Ravens and Atlanta Braves.