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New York Yankees offseason plans key ‘with or without’ Aaron Judge

NEW YORK — When it comes to Aaron Judge and his future with the New York Yankees, the word is silence.

General manager Brian Cashman declined to comment Friday on whether he has been in contact with Judge’s representatives about a new deal. Cashman, however, didn’t tiptoe around Judge’s importance to the organization’s plans for this offseason and beyond.

“When you make these commitments to players, you know he’s the fan favorite,” Cashman said during a news conference at Yankee Stadium on Friday. “He interacts extremely well with our fans. He’s respected within that clubhouse, he runs his business to the best of his ability. He’s an elite player, among the best in the game, if not the best player. All that being said, those are the types of players you want to retain and have as long as possible.

Judge’s historic 2022 season (he batted .311/.425/.686 with 131 RBIs for an American League record 62 home runs) has the 6-foot-7 slugger in position to receive one of the biggest contracts in baseball history this year. out of season.

Cashman said owner Hal Steinbrenner will spend time assessing the market for Judge this offseason to get a sense of what kind of compromise the team will be willing to make moving forward. The fact that Judge is a player who draws fans to the stadium will play a role in how much money the Yankees would be willing to commit to a long-term deal.

“Like George Steinbrenner said, he gets the fans into the seats,” Cashman said. “People want to go see that guy play, and you want to put great teams on the field that want to come here to watch him compete and win. Certain individual players transcend on the team and everything stops when they’re at bat or when they have the ball. in hand. It’s one of those kinds of talents.”

Whether or not Judge returns to New York will shape the Yankees’ offseason trajectory. Because signing Judge would represent the team’s biggest expense, the front office is making contingency plans based on whether it can sign the star slugger and how it would proceed this offseason if it can’t.

“[Judge] he’s going to dictate the dance moves to his free agency and he’s worked extremely hard to earn this job, so we’ll see how this plays out,” Cashman said. “He might tie you down a little bit along the way, but he’s not the only guy with the one we have to deal with. He is the most important, but if he came here today and said, ‘Oh man, I sign, come on,’ there’s still a lot of work to do.”

Yankees manager Aaron Boone said he had a conversation with Judge in his office at the end of the season and expressed his appreciation for their relationship and how it has grown over the years.

“Of course I hope he comes back and is a Yankee forever,” Boone said. “I can’t think of a better guy that you want to run your team and your organization, and I hope it works out. But my conversations with him now are just checking in with him over the winter and hoping it works out.” But obviously that’s above me.”

While Steinbrenner has pledged that Boone will return as manager, questions surround Cashman’s future with the organization. Cashman’s contract expired at the end of October and he remains an at-will employee of the team. He continues to hold planning meetings with the rest of the front office, and said Steinbrenner told him there is interest in keeping him with the team.

Although his future is up in the air, Cashman remains focused on shaping the Yankees’ plans to be a better team by 2023 and win the World Series, with or without Judge.

“We have a lot of others that we need to deal with to put ourselves in a better position to navigate not just the Houston Astros, but all the other up-and-comers making their way into the mix to represent the American League in the World Series next year.” year,” Cashman said. “Obviously we want it to be us, but that’s something we haven’t been able to achieve.

“Regardless of the recognition that Aaron Judge is such an important piece here, he is one of many that we hope to achieve in different shapes and forms.”

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