The New York Yankees have a major problem on their hands once the 2022 MLB season comes to a close, and MVP candidate Aaron Judge continues to cleverly remind them of that fact at the most opportune times.
On Thursday night, Judge played last-minute hero for the third time this season when he hit a walk-off home run to give the Yankees a 1-0 victory over the lowly Kansas City Royals. The win was important because the best team in baseball has been sputtering of late after losing five of their last seven, including a two-game sweep to crosstown rivals the New York Mets.
But playing hero has been the story for Judge in what has been a magical season in 2022. The 30-year-old is a serious contender for MLB MVP and is on pace to hit over 60 home runs. And the timing of this career year couldn’t be better.
It is well documented that the Yankees missed out on a golden opportunity in the spring to re-sign their best player before he could become a free agent this winter. However, instead of overpaying to keep homegrown talent in his prime, the organization looked for a more fiscally conservative contract agreement. Judge has made them pay for that decision ever since by putting up a season that will force the Yankees to pony up even more than what they felt was too much four months ago.
New York Yankees feeling contract leverage of Aaron Judge after latest walk-off win
Now, the four-time All-Star has all the leverage and has recently shown he is not only a gifted ball player but also a savvy businessman. With the eyes of the baseball world on him and fellow All-Stars at this year’s annual event, Judge subtly insinuated that the Yankees have a lot of good talent and will be just fine without him after this year.
- Aaron Judge stats (2022): .293/.375/.653, 39 HR, 83 RBI
In his latest reminder to the team, and maybe even fans, that the magic he brings could all be over, Judge was asked in Thursday’s post-game media scrum about that special walk-off moment in front of Yankees fans. And instead of just mentioning his appreciation of it, he threw in the fact that it all could come to an end in the near future.
The Yankees are in a very difficult position and it could be even worse if the team wins a World Series title in October with Judge leading the way. The team’s front office will never live down the fact that they didn’t take the bargain they could have gotten in the spring of 2022.