Aaron Judge is betting on himself.
Before his New York Yankees opened the season against the Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium on Friday afternoon, the slugger reportedly turned down a seven-year, $230-million deal to stay in pinstripes.
Judge, who will be 30 on April 26, had a self-imposed deadline of Opening Day. A deal didn’t get done.
“We were unsuccessful in concluding a multi year pact,” Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said to the media before the game. “Obviously, our intent is to have Aaron Judge stay a New York Yankee as we move forward, and I know that is his intent as well, which is a good thing.”
After a career year in 2021, Judge is poised to become the highest-paid in the Majors.
Before Friday most were surprised that Cashman has not already handed Judge a blank check by now. The slugger is entering the final year of his rookie deal and had already made it clear he had no plans to continue contract negotiations after his Opening Day deadline.
The deal in dollars was seven years and $213.5 million extension, which paired with the $17 million it offered in arbitration this season, would have made the entire package just over $230 million.
Speaking before it was announced a deal wasn’t reached, Judge said his focus was on the first game of the season.
“If it doesn’t get done, then we’ll work on the one-year arbitration deal and move on from there,” he said. “This is it. I don’t want to be a distraction during the year.”
Judge has been the most valuable player for the Yankees since he was called up to the Majors in 2017. He was unanimously selected as the 2017 American League Rookie of the Year and led the Yankees to Game 7 of the ALCS in the same season.
Judge answered many critics in 2021, his best season since his rookie year. He silenced questions about whether or not he can stay healthy for an entire season – or if he could be more than just a power threat at the plate.
— MLBbro.com (@MLBbrodotcom) September 29, 2021
Judge led the Yankees in almost every offensive category last season: games played, hits, doubles, home runs, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, OPS and WAR – all while being one of the most underrated defensive players in the sport.
There’s still a good chance that Judge will still ink a deal that will make him one of the highest-paid outfielders in baseball.
There are three MLBbros in the top 10 for highest-paid outfielders: Jason Heyward, former MVP Mookie Betts, and 32-year-old George Springer, whose six-year, $150-million deal with the Blue Jays last off-season made him the second highest-paid outfielder in all of baseball.
The Yankees are still definitely hopeful. “The expectation and anticipation as we move forward is, we’ll talk about day, and that day more likely would be at the conclusion of this season,” Cashman said.