9:03am: “Barring a significant change in the next few hours,” Judge and the Yankees will not strike a deal prior to first pitch today, reports ESPN’s Jeff Passan. Passan says the Yankees have proposed a deal worth more than $225MM. Keep in mind that Judge can already expect at least $17MM for the 2022 season. Yankees reporters note that GM Brian Cashman will speak with the press at 10:15am central time.
7:21am: With the Yankees set to open their season hosting the Red Sox in less than five hours, Aaron Judge‘s self-imposed deadline for aa contract extension as he enters his walk year is fast approaching. First pitch remains a hard deadline, Judge told reporters this morning. The Yankees are willing to offer their slugging right fielder a six or seven-year extension, a source told Bob Nightengale of USA Today yesterday. The two sides “remain far apart,” adds Nightengale this morning. Joel Sherman and Jon Heyman of the New York Post report that the Yankees and Judge are still talking today, with the team offering to make Judge the highest paid position player in Yankees history by average annual value.
As a minimum, that only represents Alex Rodriguez‘s $27.5MM salary on a deal signed more than 14 years ago. The game’s top players have routinely landed AAVs north of $30MM in recent years, a plateau that has been reached 20 times. MLB.com’s Jon Morosi adds a slight bit of detail: the Yankees have offered Judge at least $28MM annually. Morosi also notes that the Yankees have offered Judge a total in excess of $200MM.
On Wednesday, the Guardians tacked five years and $124MM onto the contract of superstar third baseman jose ramirez, also guaranteeing what was already a slam-dunk club option for 2023. The deal, which represents a steep discount over Ramirez’s market value, runs through his age-35 season. Sherman feels that what Judge is willing to accept is “not in the same galaxy” as Ramirez. Sherman estimated on Wednesday that the Yankees are willing to offer “$240 million-ish over seven or eight years.”
Of the 24 arbitration eligible players currently headed toward a midseason hearing to determine their 2022 salary, Judge’s $5MM gap with the Yankees ($17MM vs. $22MM) represents the largest. That would likely be settled as part of a long-term contract extension.
Judge has missed significant portions of three of the last five seasons due to injury, which is likely an issue in paying him through age 37 as stars like Corey Seager, Freddie Freeman, Marcus Semienand Francisco Lindor were. Seager, at least, had a notable injury history of his own, but his deal was struck on the open market in advance of his age-28 season. If Judge were to be signed through age 36, that’d mean covering six free agent years, seven in total.
If, as Sherman speculated, the Yankees are willing to offer $240MM over the next seven years, and we include $20MM for 2022, the AAV on the six free agent years would be north of $36.5MM, which would rank second in baseball history behind only Max Scherzer. That seems unlikely. Matching Seager’s AAV would mean $32.5MM annually for free agent years, and a total of $215MM over the next seven. It’s worth noting that Judge already knows he’ll make a minimum of $17MM in 2022, so it might be important to land an additional $200MM in new money and not just in total.
If Judge reaches the open market, he could be joined in the 2022-23 free agent class again strong at the shortstop position. The outfield market doesn’t project to be too impressive beyond Judge, with other names including Joey Gallo, Mitch Haniger, Brandon Nimmoand Kike Hernandez.
Judge is set to beat second in the Yankees’ Opening Day lineup in today’s game against Nathan Eovaldi and the Red Sox, which begins at 12:05pm central time.