Aaron Judge is a gift and a curse for the Yankees. He’s a gift because rarely do we see Paul Bunyan wielding a Lousiville Slugger. He’s a curse in some ways because we’ve only seen him at his best for one season. . Judge’s injury history is well noted and every time he steps on the field Yankees fans hope and pray that he doesn’t return to the IL.
A brittle body doesn’t change the fact that he’s a five-tool beast when that 6-foot-8 frame is functioning on all cylinders
With his free agency pending, some have questioned whether or not the Yankee should invest the $275M or so it will take to keep Judge in Pinstripes. On the other hand, days like Wednesday — when he bashes two mammoth shots in his first two at-bats against the team that feels it can hang with the Bronx Bombers in the AL East — make the decision pretty simple.
The second homer had an exit velocity of 111.9 MPH, way above the league average of 103.6
— MLBbro.com (@MLBbrodotcom) April 14, 2021
Even with Judge’s heroics, the Yankees lost the game 5-4. They won’t win it all without him, so they have to manage him delicately.
“I know in Aaron’s case, and pretty much all of our guys, they want to go out there all the time and they want to be there for their teammates,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said in a SI article. “So anytime I’m holding a guy out of the lineup, or they’re not able to go out there, I think that’s probably a little frustrating for everybody. But that’s also part of sport and part of what we have to manage on a daily basis.”
Since Judge smashed a rookie record of 52 homers in 2017, he hasn’t played more than 112 games in a season. The big knock on Judge entering 2021 was the fact that since the beginning of 2018, the lethal slugger had appeared in only 242 of a possible 384 games (63 percent)
He’s already missed time this season with soreness. Honestly, though, that’s the risk you take with a player of Judge’s game-changing potential. In that limited time, he’s also produced 11 multi-homer games.
He’s set to become a free agent following the 2022 season. That means Judge will be entering his age-31 season after that winter. He’s no Spring chicken, but at the same time, the Yankees certainly don’t want to be facing a healthy Judge playing for the competition in a playoff situation.
There will be a line of suitors around the corner if this guy hits the free agent market. He might not command the money that younger superstar like Tatis is getting, but when Judge is healthy, he’s every bit as good. You have to believe that he’s going to catch a hot streak of three or four years where everything just falls into place again. The Yankees don’t want to bail out too early.
Wednesday’s performance was another example of why you don’t relinquish talent like that. Even if you’re only going to have it for 100 games a season.