Aaron Judge was announced differently at home by Paul Olden and cheered louder and longer than any of his Yankees teammates.
The judge now coffers into the prestige space that Brett Gardner has long occupied. Ahead of a presentation for the 2022 season, manager Aaron Boone stated what has become clear: “He’s probably the biggest leader in that room.”
And that’s not because of his 6-foot-7 frame. The judge’s vaccine status may be called into question, but his status in the home club at Yankee Stadium is not.
He is the best player on the team. The most important player on the list. The most marketable player for the most historic franchise. It’s a symbol of Bronx cauldron endurance and prosperity – and not just in the batter box.
He is the most visible heir to Derek Jeter. The local face of the team – and perhaps the sport. He’s a diligent vanilla in the public comments, admired in his club and loved from the judge’s chambers to the pricey moat behind the home plate.
Oh yeah, he’s also one of the top 10 active baseball players in the world.
The Yankees felt they recognized all of this in their negotiations over the judge’s contract extension. More so, in their view, he was accepting a $21 million arbitration request for 2022, and then for seven years thereafter $213.5 million, which would have made the judge the second highest-paid player in history, annually, behind Mike trout. .
But the Judge camp, after considering all things tangible and intangible, baseball and marketing, wondered why he couldn’t be paid within the same age (38) that would be Trout by the Angels, and of similar value.
These two factors were rational. The Yankees ignored the five-year $124 extension starting in 2024 that the Guardians agreed to with Jose Ramirez, a player similar to Judge in performance and age. Such was the Yankees’ appreciation of the difference between Cleveland and New York and the difference in local and national influence between Ramirez and Judge.
But their stopping mark for the average value on the seven-year show was $30.5 million, north of the Mookie Betts deal with the Dodgers and enough to make Judge the second-highest-paid among defensive players, but well short of the Trout average of $35.54 million. After all, Judge wasn’t negotiating the clout of being a free agent. Unlike the deals the Dodgers and Angels made with Bates and Trout, the Yankees will not have seasons in their twenties (he will turn 30 on April 26). There are concerns about the judge remaining in good health, and concerns about how someone of his size will progress. So their bid would have bumped it up to 37.
Certainly not many people will see that rejecting the wealth of generations makes sense. Judge is risking a guaranteed $213.5 million to win more while gambling, he will remain healthy and productive in 2022.
But the judge is like Jeter or Mariano Rivera. It was built with optimism. Like them, he does not absorb negative thoughts. He can’t imagine the collapse. Judge envisions being a better player, leading the Yankees to a title, and being able to ask for more casual assignments than he’s now offered.
And remember, there is another off season. Neither the team nor the player is in danger of ending this marriage now. Both sides insisted that they still desired a long-term union. Judge played his part by also saying that when he next negotiates he will be able to speak to all 30 teams. We can definitely get away with today’s group – hello Cincinnati, Cleveland and Kansas City. But the influence will come if the Giants participate, especially the Mets or the Red Sox.
After the 1998 season, the Yankees were swinging with Bernie Williams until they thought he was on the threshold of leaving for the Red Sox. That prompted George Steinbrenner to inflate his bid by nearly 50 per cent to retain the free-agent midfielder.
Also, don’t forget that by the end of this season, Judge will have earned around $40 million. Without the catastrophic injury, what’s the least he’s offered after the season? It wouldn’t be less than what Ramirez got, for example.
There is danger. Of course there is. But Judge has built-in financial protection and the belief that his value is like the Yankees on and off the field, where he finished second at the box office, played right and had a close division allotted to him, should be paid for for longer and by more than the Yankees were willing to offer. right Now. His self-confidence is why he’s so good, and why he can handle everything that comes with being a Yankee.
As he begins his journey towards trying to prove that he deserves what he asked for, and more, his biggest fans and supporters in the effort will be those who want a championship in 2022 as much as he does.
Yes, Hal Steinbrenner and the Yankees.