Last Updated on October 15, 2022 by Lil Ginge
In March 2022 I wrote a blog post titled “The Yankees Should Probably Trade Aaron Judge. Here’s Why.” Well, I was wrong. The Yankees must absolutely sign Aaron Judge to a long-term deal.
My main argument against the Yankees signing Judge was, essentially, that Aaron Judge was too old to give a 7 to 10-year deal. Judge is now 30, which means a 10-year deal would take him all the way to age 40.
40 years old is ancient in Major League Baseball now.
When I originally published this article in June, I said that Judge had now made it impossible for the Yankees to let him walk or trade him away in 2022. After the ridiculous season Judge just had in which he beat Roger Maris’s American League home run record, this is even more true now. The man has to be a lifelong Yankee. Let’s discuss why.
The Yankees’ Previous Offer To Aaron Judge
According to New York Yankees GM Brian Cashman, The Yankees offered Aaron Judge a seven-year, $230.5 million deal this past offseason. This would have amounted to an average annual value (AAV) of $30.5. That would have been the 15th-best AAV in MLB. But, Judge reportedly rejected the offer on April 8th.
“Unfortunately” for the Yankees, Judge decided to go out and prove in 2022 that he is far better than the 15th-best player in Major League Baseball. Maybe he was offended by the offer and decided to show the Yankees what was up. Regardless, he was the main driving force behind the Yankees’ acquiring a postseason berth in 2022. They would not be there without his amazing offensive production.
Aaron Judge Is The Face Of The Yankees Franchise
Aaron Judge is more than just a great baseball player. Though he is that too. Judge is the face of the New York Yankees and one of the main faces of Major League Baseball along with players like Mike Trout and – I’m not even sure who else? Mookie Betts maybe? Altuve?
Plus, Aaron Judge is worth more to the Yankees than to other clubs. The Yankees are also worth more to Judge than other clubs are. That’s because his success and identity are now so tied up with the New York Yankees franchise and the city of New York.
The benefits of Aaron Judge for the Yankees go beyond his baseball skills. He’s a beloved player. He brings in fans. He aligns perfectly with their brand. He’s their most valuable franchise player since Derek Jeter.
Judge stands to benefit from the kinds of endorsement deals and brand equity that only being a New York Yankee can bring you in baseball. Even when those teams are performing at the peak of their powers, teams like the Los Angeles Yankees, Houston Astros, and crosstown rivals the New York Mets simply do not have the same cache.
Aaron Judge Had The Best Season Of His Career
Offense was generally way down in MLB in 2022. People are blaming the physical baseballs for this drought in scoring. But, it doesn’t really matter why for Aaron Judge. He mashed the baseball and put up the season of his career anyway.
In 2022, Aaron Judge hit .311 / .425 / .686 with 62 home runs and 131 RBIs. 62 homers, an American League record, obviously lead MLB, with Kyle Schwarber (46) and Pete Alonso (40) trailing way behind in second and third place.
I think if the Yankees let Judge walk now, with those numbers and helping the Yankees reach the postseason, their fanbase will be horrified. That may be somewhat lessened if the Yankees go on to win the 2022 World Series, which is now a distinct and likely possibility. Or maybe now.
But how do you let a generational player like Judge walk away for free at age 30? He likely has at least another five good years of baseball in him. How many championships could he help bring in that timespan?
How Much Is Aaron Judge Currently Worth?
Judge is currently 30 years old and will be 31 in April 2023. By baseball standards, that’s on the older side.
Most people consider Mike Trout to be the best player in baseball over the last decade or so. Trout was given a 12-year deal for $426.5 million, the highest total value in MLB history. The second highest is Mookie Betts with a 12-year, $365 million deal.
Another way to look at contracts besides total value is average annual value (AAV). Max Scherzer is currently the highest-payed MLB player by AAV at $43.333 million per year. The highest-paid position player by AAV is Mike Trout at $35,541,667 per year.
According to Sportrac’s 2023 MLB Market Value calculations, Judge is currently worth an eight-year deal of $303.7 million for an AAV of $38 million per year. The value is calculated with a multistep process that starts with finding comparable players to Judge, adjusting them for Judge’s current age, and then performing a linear regression on these values.
The Yankees: Profits Over Wins
Of course, we know that the current Yankees ownership appears to care more about sustained profitability than they do winning championships. Hal Steinbrenner is not George Steinbrenner. For Hal, good enough is good enough.
But Judge is the player bringing in the money, and that definitely means something to Hal. As baseball fans, we look at baseball contracts in light of the statistics put up by the player and the wins they add to the board.
Yankees ownership is looking at what Aaron Judge could add to the Yankees’ bottom line for the next decade. If he sees lots of dollar signs, that may be enough to push Hal into signing the long-term deal – any long-term deal – that Judge wants from them.
The Yankees Must Sign Aaron Judge To A Long-Term Deal
Letting your franchise player walk at age 30 may make sense sometimes. But not when your franchise 30-year-old is putting up his best season. And making you the best team in baseball. And increasing your odds singlehandedly of a World Series ring. And you are the New York Yankees.
But, The Yankees now have little to no choice in the matter. I was wrong. They can no longer trade Judge or let him walk away for nothing at the end of the year.
The New York Yankees must absolutely sign Aaron Judge to a long-term deal at the end of the season. And they may not even regret it in the end.
If you enjoyed this article on The Yankees needing to sign Aaron Judge, make sure to check out my article The Mets’ First Month of Baseball Has Been Fantastic.