All-Star outfielder Aaron Judge will test free agency waters, the New York Yankees are the betting favorite to re-sign the slugger and outbid other teams like the San Francisco Giants, Los Angeles Dodgers, and New York Mets.
It’s been a banner season for Judge, who becomes a free agent right after his best season in six years as a professional. Judge smacked 62 home runs in 2022 and set a new American League record for most home runs in season. Judge eclipsed a former mark held by fellow Yankee Roger Maris. Maris had set the initial record with 61 home runs in in 1961 when he was chasing Babe Ruth’s single-season MLB record of 60 home runs.
|AARON JUDGE NEXT TEAM ODDS|
|New York Yankees||-500|
|San Francisco Giants||+425|
|Los Angeles Dodgers||-1000|
|New York Mets||-1400|
|Boston Red Sox||-1400|
According to a report from Sports Illustrated, the Yankees are the betting favorite at -500 odds to retain Judge. If Judge decides to sign a new contract with a different team, the San Francisco Giants (at +425 odds) and Los Angeles Dodgers (+1400) are the betting favorites to persuade him to leave the Yankees.
Almost Triple Crown for Judge
Judge spent the last six seasons with the Yankees since making a huge splash during his first-full season in 2017 when he set a American League rookie record with 52 home runs.
Judge missed out on the triple crown this season after he batted .311 with 62 home runs and 131 RBI. He finished fifth overall in batting average and tied for the RBI title. He also led the majors with a 1.111 on-base percentage. Overall, Judge slashed at .311/.425/.686 while posting a WAR of 10.6.
A healthy Judge just missed five games all season. In 2021, he appeared in 148 games, which marked the most he played 155 games during his rookie season in 2017. Judge was plagued with injuries in 2018 and 2019 and missed 110 games over those two seasons. He fractured his hand late into the 2018 season, while an oblique and rib injury kept him out of 60 games in 2019.
Judge turned 30-years old in April, but was unable to reach a contract extension before Spring Training. The Yankees offered Judge a contract worth $213.5 million over seven years, or $30.5 million per season, but he turned it down.
The Yankees and Judge failed to come to terms for his salary in 2022, so they headed to arbitration. Judge had requested a raise to $21 million, but the Yankees offered him only $17 million. He was awarded $19 million in arbitration.
The Yankees clinched an AL East division crown with a 99-63 record, but were knocked out of the playoffs by their recent nemesis. The Houston Astros won the ALCS and beat the Yankees in just five games.
All I can really say is it’s been a pleasure and honor getting the chance to suit up with the guys in this room,” said Judge after getting eliminated by the Astros. “I just kick myself for not bringing home that championship for the fans.”
Judge gambled on himself and stayed healthy all season. The results and stats speak for themselves. It’s now up to the Yankees to make Judge an offer he cannot refuse, otherwise a rival could snatch him up. After a monstrous season crushing 62 home runs, Judge is expected to earn the highest-paid contract in baseball.
Aaron Judge's record-breaking home run was 95 years in the making pic.twitter.com/EbL6UIv4LS
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) October 5, 2022
Judge in the Big Apple
Pitcher Max Scherzer from the New York Mets is the highest-paid player at $43.3 million per season. Left fielder Mike Trout from Los Angeles Angels has the richest contract in baseball with a 12-year deal worth $426.5 million. Trout averages $35 million per season.
Judge could bank up to $50 million per season with his new contract. The Yankees have the inside track to sign him, but a mega-deal like that could put them in a financial bind. The Yankees have a hefty payroll with starting pitcher Gerrit Cole, designated hitter Giancarlo Stanton, and infielder DJ LeMahieu are expected to earn nearly $330 million between 2023 and 2027.
Cole signed a nine-year deal for $324 million, and his average salary is $36 million per season. Stanton signed a 13-year deal worth $325 million, with an $25 million average per season. The Yankees signed LeMahieu to a six-year deal worth $90 million.
Aaron will dictate the dance steps to his free agency because he’s earned the right to get there,” said Yankees general manager Brian Cashman. “We’ll see how it plays out. He’s the most important.”
The New York Mets, under billionaire owner Steve Cohen, are one of the few teams that could outbid the Yankees to sign Judge. The Mets had no qualms paying a premium price tag for free agents, which is why they’re on the short list of teams that could add Judge in free agency at +1400 odds.
Last winter, the Mets enticed Scherzer to come to the Big Apple for a three-year deal worth $130 million. In 2021, the Mets lured Francisco Lindor away from the Cleveland Guardians with a hefty raise and contract worth $341 million over ten years.
Judge Going Back to Cali?
Judge grew up in Northern California and rooted for the San Francisco Giants as a kid. He mentioned in passing it would be an honor to play for his favorite team one day. Perhaps childhood nostalgia for the Bay Area could become the deciding factor for Judge.
The San Francisco Giants won the World Series three times since the Yankees last won a title in 2009. The Giants were champions in 2010, 2012, and 2014.
In 2021, the Giants won a franchise-record 107 games but the Los Angeles Dodgers knocked them out of the NLDS. The Giants struggled this season with an 81-81 record and finished in third place in the NL West.
The Giants have plenty of financial flexibility to write Judge a blank check, which is why they’re a +425 odds favorite to sign Judge away from the Yankees.
The Los Angeles Dodgers set a franchise record with 111 victories this season, but the San Diego Padres upset them in the NLDS. The Dodgers have been one of the premier teams in the National League the last decade. However, they won only one championship despite three trips to the World Series.
Judge never won a World Series with the Yankees. If he wants to chase and a ring and get paid, the Dodgers would be a better fit for Judge. The Dodgers are +1000 odds to land Judge.
DraftKings released World Series odd for next season and the Dodgers are the consensus favorite. You can bet the Dodgers at +500 odds to win the 2023 World Series. The Yankees are +900 odds, the Mets are +1100 odds, and the Giants are +3500 odds.
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