By Adam Thompson | | 8 mins
Aaron Judge Next Team Odds: 47% Chance Giants Sign Yankees Star
The New York Yankees' season ended in a four-game sweep at the hands of the Houston Astros in the American League Championship Series. Few teams have as many questions to answer in the offseason as the Yankees, and it begins with Aaron Judge.
Judge was the story of baseball in 2022. He broke Roger Maris' Yankees and AL single-season home run record and won the AL Most Valuable Player Award. Now, he is an unrestricted free agent and he’s going to command top dollar in free agency.
How much will Judge get on the open market? He turned down a seven-year, $213.5 million extension in spring training, and some pundits believe he could get a deal in excess of nine years and $300 million. The MLB Winter Meetings are this week in San Diego, and free agency dominoes have begun to fall. Judge is the big one.
MLB free agency is well underway and there are reports that Judge met with his hometown San Francisco Giants multiple times in the days leading up to Thanksgiving. The Yankees followed that by upping their ante.
Aaron Judge 2023 Team Odds
In 2022, Judge had not only his best season, but one of the top seasons in MLB history. He led the American League in on-base percentage, slugging and OPS, and he topped the circuit in home runs (by 22 over second place), runs (by 30), RBIs (by 5) and walks (by 24). He also finished second in batting average. He was a massive favorite at all online sportsbooks to win the AL MVP through the summer.
Speculation ramped up in early December when Judge was seen at Monday night's NFL game between the Saints and Buccaneers wearing a Mike Evans jersey and enjoying a meetup with Tom Brady. Some thought it meant an interest in the Rays, or Brady's connection to the Red Sox or a California team (they're both from there), offering credence to Giants and Dodgers fans alike. It turns out he was there for Evans, who supported him during his home run record quest.
ESPN's Jeff Passan reported earlier this week that the Yankees have offered a deal around eight years and $300 million (which they could increase). It would be the highest AAV (average annual value) in the game.
As much as other teams will want Judge, the Yankees don’t get outbid on guys they really want. That said, there are legitimate contenders out there.
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Free Agency Contenders For Judge
The Giants get the heartfelt nod. Judge is from the Bay Area and was a huge Giants fan growing up. This is his opportunity to return home. San Francisco has $59 million coming off the payroll for 2023 so it should have the capital and the core pieces in place to make a run and compete.
San Francisco president Farhan Zaidi has said money will not be an issue in free agency - the Giants want Judge and they'll put their best foot forward. We assume that's what they did during multiple reported meetings with Judge on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving.
MLB Network's Jon Morosi reported recently that the Giants are "a very realistic possibility ... I think we are really close to 50-50."
Despite one of the great regular seasons in MLB history, Yankees fans booed Judge on multiple occasions during the AL Playoffs as he slogged through a lackluster postseason. Could that push No. 99 from the Bronx to the Bay Area?
The Dodgers have a seemingly unlimited budget and nearly $100 million coming off the books this offseason. Dodgers centerfielder Cody Bellinger is due for arbitration next season and is a free agent the following year; he could be considered expendable with that money going to Judge.
Speaking of the Red Sox, Judge raised some eyebrows when he didn't dismiss playing for hated Boston over the summer and actually went ahead and gushed about its fans and Fenway Park.
The Field has a few intriguing teams, including the Rangers, who just added Jacob deGrom to front their rotation and are trying to build a winning team by throwing money at players; the Cubs, flush with cash and may look to begin a new era with Judge at center, or championship contenders such as the Braves.
The crosstown Mets and the world champion Astros may knock on Judge's hotel room door at the winter meetings. The Mets have a lot of money, though much of it just went to Justin Verlander. The Astros have less payroll on their 2023 books than any other contender.