Like most fans, I was surprised that Texas went to a five year/$185MM deal with Jacob deGrom. I wasn’t surprised that deGrom, the victim of no run support with the Mets for so long, departed. He won back-to-back CYA with a total record of 21-17 despite unreal ERAs. He doesn’t even have 100 wins in his CAREER due to lack of run support. Most predictions had him leaving. But 5 years for a 34-year-old who has been hurt the last couple of seasons seemed and seems too much. Most predictions were in the 3-year range. When healthy, deGrom is one of, if not the best, pitcher in baseball. But he hasn’t been healthy lately.
Which brings me to Aaron Judge. What is he looking for? I don’t like to deal in rumors, but rumors are the Yanks’ initial updated offer is 8 years and $300MM. That is $37.5 MM a year, which would made Judge, by AAV (average annual value) the highest paid position player by $2MM more than Mike Trout. That seems like a fair deal.
But does Judge want a ninth year? Judge turns 31 next spring. It is fair to assume that after 4 or 5 years that his production would decrease. Heck, it may decrease immediately. How does he replicate 2022? So how much $$ and how many years is he looking for?
If someone (looking at YOU, San Francisco) wants to give Judge 10 years, $400MM, the Yankees probably wish Judge well. They can’t go there, especially when you have the contracts of Cole and Stanton to deal with. (I won’t even get into trying to dump Donaldson’s deal).
So, what kind of compromise could be had to keep Judge in the Bronx? Something that would be fair to both sides but take declining ability into account?
Here is what I would propose.
He becomes Yankees’ captain. I don’t know how important that would be to Judge, but to his teammates, it is like he is captain already, so no biggie there.
With the captaincy, comes a no-trade clause. Simple enough, you don’t want to trade your captain, the face of the franchise.
Ok, to the money.
First 3 years. Ages 31-33. $45MM a year. My offer is front-loaded. This enormous amount makes Judge the highest paid player in the game, at least for now, anyway.
Next 3 years. Ages 34-36. $38MM a year. As of now, that would still have his AAV higher than any position player in the game. Things could change in the future, but still…
Last 3 years. Ages 37-39. $30 MM a year. This gives the Yankees some financial flexibility to get pieces around Judge, whose numbers are sure to be significantly lower as he nears the end of his career.
This adds up to 9 years and $339MM, beating out the 8 yr/$300MM offer supposedly on the table. It still has an AAV of $37.66MM over the nine years, still higher than Trout’s, still making Judge the highest paid position player by AAV and front-loaded to a) made Judge the highest paid player in the game as of now and b) give the Yanks some breathing room at the end of the contract.
If Judge doesn’t like that deal, then as much as I want Judge to stay in NY, I would have to move on. I don’t know what Judge wants in terms of ego, years or money. I sincerely hope he stays. Him leaving would be not only a baseball but a marketing blow for the Yankees. It would be like Joe DiMaggio leaving right after WWII or Mickey Mantle leaving around 1960. Devastating.
But how much is too much? There has to be a limit. If I were Hal Steinbrenner, the proposal above is what I would come up with. I think it would be more than fair.
What do you think?
After hopefully signing Judge for that amount, I offer Carlos Rodon a 5 yr deal at $140MM. $28MM a year. I don’t know if Rodon wants $30MM a year. You may need to go 5/$160MM? But a front four of Cole, Rodon, Severino and Cortes (and hope Montas comes around) is a very strong rotation. By the way, of that front four, guess which one of the four had the highest ERA last year? It was Cole.
I also am intrigued by Bryan Reynolds of Pittsburgh asking for a trade. The Yanks do have a CF in Harrison Bader, but I would look into this. Bader or Reynolds could be moved to LF. Although better in CF, I would move Reynolds to LF. Bader is just too good defensively in CF to move him. Reynolds is a switch-hitter. Turns 28 in January. Signed through 2023, arbitration eligible in 2024, free agent 2026. So, he’s locked in for a while. The Yanks have been interested in him in the past. His contract for 2023 is only $6.75MM, which is far less than the Yanks would have to pay to bring back Andrew Benintendi, or go out and get Matasaka Yoshida, Michael Conforto or Brandon Nimmo. What would it take to get Reynolds? I offer #5 prospect Everson Pereira (who would be without a future in NY if you have a Judge/Bader/Reynolds outfield), #6 prospect Trey Sweeney (the SS would be superfluous in NY since you have Oswald Peraza, Anthony Volpe and Oswaldo Cabrera) and because you are giving up your #5 and #6 prospects, and because by losing Reynolds, Pittsburgh needs an OF (besides the prospect in Pereira), I throw Hicks into the deal and eat some of Hicks’ contract. Reynolds, by the way, has a 162-game average of .281-24-79 with an OPS+ of 127. 28, switch-hitter, my only concern is how he’d handle moving to LF in order to keep Bader in CF. But cost-wise? Cheaper than Benintendi, Yoshida, Nimmo or Conforto.
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