New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said Saturday that the organization will make superstar outfielder Aaron Judge a contract extension offer before the start of the 2022 MLB regular season.
According to MLB.com's Bryan Hoch, Cashman declined to say whether the Yankees had already made Judge an extension offer in the past.
Judge, who is in line to make approximately $17 million this season, is set to become a free agent at the end of the 2022 campaign.
Since making his MLB debut in 2016, Judge has developed into one of baseball's biggest stars and has consistently been the Yankees' best and most popular player.
The 2013 first-round pick out of Fresno State is a towering presence at 6'7" and 282 pounds, and he has made life miserable for opposing pitchers during his six-year MLB career.
Judge is a three-time All-Star and one-time American League home run champion who won the 2017 AL Rookie of the Year award and finished second in the AL MVP award voting that season. He also finished fourth in the AL MVP race last season.
While Judge missed a significant amount of time due to injuries from 2018 to 2020, he has been a force when healthy.
His best season remains 2017 when he hit .284 with a career-high 52 home runs, 114 RBI and 128 runs scored. He didn't quite reach those heights last season but was still dominant with a career-best .287 batting average to go along with 39 homers, 98 RBI and 89 runs.
Due to his talent and demeanor, Judge has often been compared to a Yankee lifer in Hall of Fame shortstop Derek Jeter.
Jeter spent his entire 20-year career in New York with the Bronx Bombers, and Judge has indicated that he would like to follow in Jeter's footsteps.
In November, Judge took part in a Q&A session for Fanatics and was asked about his future with the Yankees. Per NJ.com's Brendan Kuty, Judge said: "That would be a wish of mine, a goal of mine to finish my career as a Yankee. But you never know what the cards hold. If it was up to me, I'd be a Yankee for the next 10 years, for sure."
Extending Judge may seem like a no-brainer, but the Yankees have to consider his injury history and the fact that he is already 29 years old.
The combination of injuries and age mean the Yanks would be taking on a significant amount of risk if they were to sign him to a long-term deal.
At the same time, opposing teams would likely jump at the opportunity to shell out a huge contract for Judge's services given how much of a game-changer he is due to his immense power.
Along with designated hitter Giancarlo Stanton and starting pitcher Gerrit Cole, Judge will perhaps be the Yankees' biggest key to success this season, and that will continue to be the case for many years to come if he re-signs.
Given that the Yankees made essentially no splash on the free-agent market this offseason, there is increased pressure on them to win, and letting Judge walk could be perceived by fans as a sign that the organization doesn't have World Series aspirations, which would lead to a firestorm of criticism.