At the end of the day, Aaron Judge He had to stay with the Yankees, right? As many changes as there have been or have not been in the organization over the last decade, yes to the Yankees — to the Yankees! – outbid them for their best, most beloved, most iconic player… well, would they still be the Yankees?
When such a deal is struck, the repercussions are felt throughout the sport. Here are five questions we’re now pondering following Judge’s new contract.
1. And what are the Giants going to do now?
On Tuesday night, thanks to various reports, it looked like Aaron Judge was going to end up with the San Francisco Giants. Obviously it didn’t end up that way, but anyone can see why the Californians insisted on pushing so hard: They have a Judge-sized hole in the lineup. While it’s true that the Giants could benefit from not having an aging Judge in the lineup in 2031, for example, they definitely could have used this version. There isn’t another player like Judge on the market, but San Francisco desperately needs to find another bat. And soon. Because right now they look like a third place club, maybe even a fourth place club. Targeting one of the remaining shortstops in free agency seems like a clear possibility.
2. What about the rest of the National League West?
The three teams in the best position to sign Judge were supposed to be the Yankees, Giants and Dodgers. Turns out the Padres made him a big offer last time. Can you imagine if San Diego had signed Judge? Juan Soto, Manny Machado, Judge and Fernando Tatis Jr. in the same lineup? It didn’t happen, obviously, but it speaks to how much the NL West has become the AL East: Motivated powerhouses looking to hit hard. If those teams are trying to sign Judge, it means that someone are going to sign (and the Padres did, in the end, they ended up acquiring Xander Bogaerts). We are perhaps talking about the most fascinating division in Major League Baseball. Let’s put it that way: Nobody is going to cede anything to the Dodgers. As if the outlook wasn’t tough enough for the D-backs and Rockies.
3. Will the Red Sox respond?
On the one hand, it can be argued that the massive, long contract the Yankees gave Judge is an endorsement of the Red Sox’s more cautious strategy. As much as Judge is an impact player now, it’s not a stretch to think his impact will diminish as he approaches 40 and continues to cash in big. Allowing the Yankees to go crazy spending makes some sense, especially as the luxury tax penalties continue to mount. On the other hand… when are the Red Sox going to do something big? Historically, they’re supposed to respond when the Yankees make this type of move. Word is that Boston is trying to retain shortstop Xander Boagerts, which would at least send the message that the Red Sox are prepared to keep up with their rivals in New York, but Bogaerts ended up agreeing to an 11-year deal with the Padres.
The Red Sox have reached an agreement with Masataka Yoshida, and while the team won’t want the move to be perceived as a counteroffensive, many will interpret it that way. And they will consider him (fairly or unfairly) a poor response, even though he is a good player.
4. Where is Ohtani with this?
Shohei Ohtani just had a year almost as good as Judge’s historic season – some even think it was even better – and the multi-talented player still has one more year on his contract before he becomes a free agent. Ohtani is nearly two years younger than Judge, which means he’ll be a year younger than Judge is now when he tests the market. Oh, and besides all the home runs from him, he just so happens to be an excellent pitcher, too. So could Ohtani receive a more lucrative contract than Judge next year? If I could, right? Although it would definitely help if the Japanese, like Judge, had the best year of his career right before he became a free agent.
Sideplot to watch: Given that the Yankees and Mets have completed mega trades this week that could presumably limit their payroll flexibility in the near term, how is their ability to go after Ohtani affected if the Japanese converts? in free agent?
5. Are the Yankees a better team now than they were in September?
Here’s the weird part about the Yankees signing one of baseball’s brightest stars to the biggest contract in free agency history: I’m not sure they’re actually a better team than they were down the stretch in 2022. , when Judge shouldered the equipment while everything else seemed to collapse. And it looks like the Bronx Bombers continue to have holes on this roster. They seem short on outfielders, a third baseman, a shortstop (at least until Anthony Volpe is ready) and probably a pitcher or two.
Now, obviously, it would have been much worse without Judge. But there is still a lot of work to be done here. At least they’re sure they’ll have their superstar as a Yankee for life. That’s probably the way he was meant to be.