The New York Yankees recognize that getting an Aaron Judge contract extension signed before Opening Day is in everyone’s best interest. With the first pitch of the 2022 MLB season fast approaching, an offer might soon be submitted to the All-Star outfielder.
Speaking to reporters on Saturday, general manager Brian Cashman confirmed the franchise intends to submit an offer on a long-term extension to Judge before Opening Day at Yankee Stadium on April 7 against the Boston Red Sox.
- Aaron Judge contract: $17.1 million (projection)
Entering his age-30 season, Judge is on the brink of MLB free agency. He’s arbitration-eligible for the final time this year. However, the two sides are split on his 2022 salary with New York offering $17 million and the All-Star outfielder requesting $21 million.
Eligible to hit the open market this winter, the 2021 All-MLB First Team selection told MLB.com that he is ‘optimistic’ a long-term deal gets figured out.
Let’s dive into what a potential contract extension would look like for the Yankees and Judge.
Predicting an Aaron Jones contract extension
Drafted with the 32nd pick in the 2017 MLB Draft, Judge didn’t make his MLB debut until he turned 24 and he earned Rookie of the Year honors in 2017 after his age-25 season. The 6-foot-7 outfielder’s age is one of the factors slightly working against him.
Injury history and age working against Aaron Judge
Any team that wants to sign a long-term deal with Judge knows it is landing him on a multi-year deal that covers his play through his 30s. It’s important context to consider because Bryce Harper (13 years, $330 million), Mookie Betts (12 years, $365 million), Mike Trout (12 years, $426 million) and Giancarlo Stanton (13 years, $325 million) all signed massive contracts before turning 27.
There’s another factor working against Judge. The 282-pound slugger comes with an injury history that includes stints on the injured list for calf, lower body, shoulder and oblique issues. He played in 148 games during the 2021 season, but missed 30-plus games annually from 2018-’20.
New York could improve his longevity by giving him more time as the designated hitter. However, that’s already occupied for the same reasons by Stanton.
These issues certainly won’t deter the Yankees from paying Judge the money he earned. Whenever he signs his next contract, he’ll be one of the highest-paid players in MLB. We’re just adding context for a potential offer he might receive.
Aaron Judge stats and performance
It’s fair to say the New York Yankees have received far more value than they paid for Judge in the past six seasons. While the franchise might not have reached its expectations, the slugger continues to perform at an All-Star level.
- Aaron Judge career stats: .276/.386/.554, 158 home runs, 366 RBI, .940 OPS, 151 wRC+
From 2017-’21, Judge ranks fifth in home runs (154), fourth in FanGraphs’ Wins Above Replacement (24.5), fourth in OPS (.954) and third in wRC+ (154). He’s also outstanding defensively, having the second-most Defensive Runs Saved (58) among outfielders.
Judge is undeniably one of the best players in baseball. He’s also very marketable for a team that promotes its stars and depends on its brand more than any other MLB team. All of that adds to the value Judge provides the Yankees.
The Yankees likely won’t make Judge an offer that extends beyond 10 years, there’s far too much risk based on his age and durability concerns. However, an eight-year contract is very possible and would allow Judge to finish his career in New York.
We wouldn’t expect the deal to surpass the total value the likes of Trout, Harper and Betts received. However, he should easily clear $28 million per season. It also wouldn’t be a surprise if deferred money is included in the deal, paying Judge once each year after he retires.
- Projected Aaron Judge contract: 8 years, $252 million ($31.5 million per year)