The Yankees Should Probably Trade Aaron Judge. Here’s Why.

Last Updated on March 27, 2022 by Lil Ginge

Might it be in the best interest of the New York Yankees to trade Aaron Judge? It’s possible. And yet to many Yankees fans, it is probably unthinkable. And that’s the dilemma of being a large market team with some budget savvy. 

The Yankees are about to enter serious extension talks with Judge, according to reporting by John Heyman:

https://twitter.com/JonHeyman/status/1507750554377900041?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>March 26, 2022
John Heyman, reporting on Aaron Judge

As Heyman says, the deal Judge is willing to accept to forego free agency is figured to be massive. Undoubtedly, Judge’s prime years with the Yankees, from 2017 – 2021, have basically been worth any amount of money the Yankees would have paid him for that span and performance.

But you usually shouldn’t pay a player for past performance. You should pay them for current and future performance. And even if Judge has a monster five years between now and 2026, every year beyond that you guarantee him is likely to be a monster albatross over the Yankees’ heads. Possibly preventing them from fielding championship teams in the future.

A baseball laying in the dirt.
Aaron Judge could hit this ball very hard.

It’s Aaron Judge’s Age, Stupid

I’m not questioning Judge’s talent – his talent is obviously massive – nor am I questioning how valuable he should be over the next few years. What I am questioning is his value beyond that and what it might mean if the Yankees give him more than, say, a seven-year deal. 

The sticking point here is Judge’s age. Aaron Judge will be 30 years old on April 26th. While next to me that is a spring chicken, it’s not in terms of a baseball player. A baseball player’s peak years tend to be in the 26 to 29-year-old range. That means that everything in the 30 and up years tends to be a baseball player’s decline phase (especially in the post-steroid era).

That’s not an iron law of physics. There are players who perform at a superstar caliber well into their thirties. Just look at one of my personal baseball heroes, Justin Verlander, who was still a Cy Young-level superstar at age 37 and probably still is now at 39. But unfortunately, Verlander is the exception. He’s not the rule.

The Yankees Have Options With Judge: Sign or Trade

It’s quite possible that Judge will be a mediocre to bad baseball player by age 35 and up. You’d hate to see it, but it’s the truth. Let’s say the Yankees give him an eight-to-ten-year deal, which seems possible to me. Would the Yankees want to pay him a huge fortune for 5 mediocre to bad seasons? Will that prevent them from locking up more superstars that could outperform Judge by a whole lot? It sure could.

So what is the alternative here? Well, the Yankees could trade Judge now or during the season, as far before the deadline as possible. If you owned or managed a championship-caliber ball club, would you be willing to part with two or three top prospects and / or a good major leaguer in order to secure a season or even a partial season of Judge’s services?

I sure would. Not going to lie, as a Mets fan, I’d do this in a heartbeat if it were up to me. Look, I’m as excited the Mets added Mark Canha as anyone. Probably more excited. I think he’s going to be very good for them this season. But is he Aaron Judge? Hell to the no. And the Mets are hardly the only team who could use twenty-seven plus homers, a .386 on-base percentage, and great defense in right field this year.

What The Yankees Should Do About Judge

If I’m the Mets, for example, I give up Canha and top prospects to be able to add a peak-performing Aaron Judge to a roster that also includes a peak-performing Max Scherzer, Jacob deGrom, Francisco Lindor, Brandon Nimmo, and Pete Alonso. That’s a championship-level ball club right there. And winning a championship now is always the best goal to have in baseball when it is possible.

Obviously, I do not know what the Yankees are going to do about Judge. The most likely scenario feels like it will be signing him to a giant extension worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Letting him walk at the end of the year for a draft pick and nothing else would be a mistake of biblical proportions. The only other sensible option is to trade Aaron Judge for a mixture of good to great major leaguers and prospects.

If the Yankees are wise, they will look to keep Judge on a five, maybe a seven-year deal to reap the benefits of his remaining prime years while the Yankees are semi-competitive (if not championship caliber). Beyond seven years, the best option is to trade Judge now and help secure a bright future for the ballclub.

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