The end of Aaron Judge’s time in a Yankees uniform may have come on Sunday. For the first time in his career, the 30-year-old home run champion is a free agent, and the San Francisco Giants and the Los Angeles Dodgers are among the betting favorites to sign him if he departs the New York Yankees.
Is this the end result? Aaron Judge, a power hitter for the New York Yankees and a leading candidate for AL MVP, is a free agent for the first time this offseason. Even if he does return to the pinstripes after 2023, it’s far from guaranteed.
All eyes are on Judge as the annual winter meetings get underway, with Jacob deGrom having already secured a huge contract with the Texas Rangers. According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the latest speculations suggest he will sign a nine-year contract with the highest bidder in free agency.
The current MLB betting odds for the teams most likely to sign Judge are shown below. As on the 4th of December, however, they are no longer available.
Odds to be Aaron Judge’s next team
|Team||Odds to land Aaron Judge|
|New York Yankees||-165|
|San Francisco Giants||+170|
|Los Angeles Dodgers||+550|
|New York Mets||+1,100|
|Boston Red Sox||+1,700|
|St. Louis Cardinals||+3,000|
|Los Angeles Angels||+3,000|
|All other teams||+10,000|
The situation at a glance
Prior to the 2022 season, the Yankees presented Aaron Judge with a seven-year, $213.5 million agreement. The outfielder declined the offers and instead chose to put his faith in his own abilities. This turned out great for the 2017 AL Rookie of the Year, as he went on to smash a new AL and Yankees single-season record with 62 home runs and a slash line of.311/.425/.686. With a final batting average of.316, Luis Arraez of the Minnesota Twins came close to earning the Triple Crown.
During the 2023 season, New York made Judge a qualifying offer of $19.65 million. Obviously, he turned it down, but if he contracts with another team, the Yankees will get a compensation draft selection next summer.
Judge will become the 10th player in MLB history to sign a contract for more than $300 million, and no amount of draft-pick compensation can dampen his market whether he stays in the Bronx or goes elsewhere.
Favorites to land Aaron Judge
New York Yankees | -165
Betting odds indicate that Judge will continue with the Yankees through at least 2023, despite the booing and the apparent mounting animosity in the Bronx. There’s an argument to be made for staying with the same team for the whole of one’s career, joining the ranks of Yankee greats like Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, and Derek Jeter.
If he does win AL MVP, he will be the first Yankee to do it since Alex Rodriguez in 2007.
According to Jim Bowden of The Athletic, the Yankees will re-sign the four-time All-Star to a contract for $330 million over eight years, keeping him in New York until his age 38 season.
Moreover, Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner has been so kind as to “consider” promoting Judge to the position of “captain” if he returns (sarcasm heavily implied).
San Francisco Giants | +170
At first glance, the Giants might not appear like the most obvious frontrunners. When it comes to signing free agents, San Francisco has been somewhat conservative. The Giants’ six-year, $130,000,000 contract with Johnny Cueto in 2016 was their largest ever given to an incoming player, while their eight-year, $167,000,000 agreement with Buster Posey before the 2013 season was their largest ever given to an existing player.
Even when added together, the contracts fall short of the $300 million or more that Judge may be expected to command.
Farhan Zaidi, president of baseball operations for the Giants, will not have to worry about spending restrictions this offseason. According to NJ.com’s Randy Miller, Judge is at the top of the Giants’ wishlist, and if they don’t sign him, it won’t be because they were outbid. Both Giancarlo Stanton and Bryce Harper were targets of interest for the Giants before they were signed by the Yankees and the Phillies, respectively. The Giants seem determined to avoid another disappointing finish.
Thanks to Carlos Rodon’s contract opt-out, the Giants have only $71.5 million committed to payroll for 2023, putting them in a position to spend heavily.
By the Bay, Judge would be a revolutionary figure. During his final season with the Giants in 2007, Barry Bonds hit 28 home runs. Since then, in the era of home run power, only one batter, Brandon Belt in 2021, has hit more (no Giants hitter has hit 30 or more in a season since 2004 Bonds).
Judge, like Bonds before him, boasts the sort of power that isn’t truly confined by any stadium, even though Oracle Park is extremely pitcher-friendly. And while the “hometown destination” storyline has been done to death, it’s worth noting that Judge attended high school in Linden, California, a short distance from Oracle Park.
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