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Aaron Judge being recruited to Los Angeles Angels by former Yankees player

Vincent Frank

New York Yankees star outfielder Aaron Judge is slated to become a free agent next winter. The AL MVP candidate turned down a seven-year, $213.5 million extension with New York ahead of Opening Day.

The two sides are headed for an arbitration hearing in June, leading to speculation that there’s a growing financial rift between the player and his organization.

With his Los Angeles Angels in the Bronx to take on the Yankees this week, veteran Tyler Wade had dinner with Judge Monday night. The two are former teammates with the Yankees as Wade wore the pinstripes from 2017-21 before being traded to the Angels this past spring.

In talking with the media on Tuesday, Wade confirmed that he might have started recruiting Judge to Southern California.

“You never know, I might have planted a couple seeds. But you never know. He’s having a great year, I’m happy for him.”

Tyler Wade on Aaron Judge, via NY Post

Judge and Wade were actually members of the very same Yankees draft class back in 2013 with the former going in the first round and the latter hearing his name called in the fourth round. Obviously, they enjoy a nice friendship.

As for where things stand in Judge contract talks with the Yankees, general manager Brian Cashman refuses to discuss the details publicly.

“We’re not going to talk about it now going forward. Whether that means we’re not going to talk, I’m not saying that, but we’re not going to talk about it (publicly). But he’s been great. But that’s no surprise, because he is great.”

Brian Cashman on Aaron Judge contract talks

Cashman also pushed back against reports that Judge is unhappy about the contract offer terms being made public record.

“I’m not aware of any of that,” Cashman said. “His camp knew all about it, so I assume he knew all about it. It certainly doesn’t feel like (he’s upset) when I’ve interacted with him since.”

Related: Aaron Judge and top 2023 MLB free agents

Is Aaron Judge even a realistic option for the Los Angeles Angels?

aaron judge, los angeles angels
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

It seems impossible on the surface. Los Angeles is paying star outfielder Mike Trout $35.54 million annually on his current 12-year, $426.5 million contract.

Shohei Ohtani is eligible for arbitration in 2013 and is looking for a lucrative long-term deal. Given his two-way prowess as a hitter and pitcher, it’s not even known what type of market would greet the Japanese sensation. But he has to be looking at something in the ballpark of $35 to $40 million annually.

As for the Angels, they currently boast the seventh-highest payroll in baseball at a projected $190 million for the 2022 season. That number should find its way down to $119 million following this season.

  • Aaron Judge stats (2022): .309 average, 18 HR, 37 RBI, 1.044 OPS

As you can see, the 30-year-old Judge is in the midst of a potential MVP season for the first-place Yankees. If he continues at this rate, anything resembling the seven-year, $213.5 million offer he received from New York ahead of Opening Day would seem to be a pipe dream.

Trout is the highest-paid position player in baseball at $35 million. There’s every reason to believe that Judge would top that given how the market has reset itself since Trout signed his deal back in March of 2019.

That’s magnified by what would then likely be a bidding war between large-market teams such as the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Mets.

Even then, it’s a fun thing to look at. Imagine Aaron Judge, Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani doing their thing in the middle of the Angels’ lineup. Whew!