Yankees Rumors: Aaron Judge Contract Extension 'Not Close' Ahead of Opening Day

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IIApril 2, 2022

TAMPA, FLORIDA - MARCH 30: Aaron Judge #99 of the New York Yankees runs to first base after hitting a single in the third inning against the Toronto Blue Jays during a Grapefruit League spring training game at George Steinbrenner Field on March 30, 2022 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)
Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge has made it clear that he will not work on an extension during the 2022 MLB season, which begins Thursday afternoon against the Boston Red Sox.

It appears Judge and the Yankees have some work to do on that front, as Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported Saturday that the two sides are not close to agreeing on a deal before Opening Day.

"Five days remain until Opening Day, the deadline the Guardians set for an extension with third baseman José Ramirez and right fielder Aaron Judge set for an extension with the Yankees," Rosenthal wrote.

"Neither player is close to a deal, sources said. And though momentum can build quickly, significant obstacles remain in both negotiations."

Judge, who is scheduled to become a free agent next offseason, hit 39 home runs with 98 RBI and a .917 OPS last year. The 29-year-old is a three-time All-Star who finished fourth in the American League MVP voting last year.

Judge has made it clear that he wants to be in the Bronx long-term.

"Like I’ve said, I want to be here," Judge said on March 26, per Bryan Hoch of MLB.com.

"Any way we can lock that up and get a chance to play here for quite a few more years, that would be great. If it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, I’m not too worried."

It appears the Yankees did make an offer, per Jon Heyman of MLB Network and Audacy Sports on Thursday.

"They were expected to make an offer, and I believe they did so last weekend," Heyman said on MLB Network's Hot Stove (h/t Ryan Chichester of WFAN).

"My understanding is they're willing to pay in the range of $30 million a year, maybe over, but the years are going to be a question, and my belief is they're not going to want to go near [Mike] Trout and [Mookie] Betts."

That same day, Judge gave remarks about extension talks to Dan Martin of the New York Post.

"I’m always optimistic, but I know the days are counting down, and both sides want to get something done."

Yankees ace pitcher Gerrit Cole is optimistic that Judge and the Yankees could get something done, citing team owner Hal Steinbrenner's willingness to close deals when needed.

"I don’t want to speculate [on Judge’s free agency], because there’s this window right here and then at the end of the year [before he hits the market], but I would say when the Yankees want somebody and their back is up against the wall, if Hal wants to get it done, he gets it done," Cole said Thursday, per Martin.

Judge turns 30 years old on April 26, so the Yankees would be handing out a hefty second contract to someone who will be entering his age-31 season (2023) at the beginning of the new deal.

Still, Judge is a cornerstone to build around thanks to his prodigious power and laser arm in right field. He and Giancarlo Stanton carried the otherwise struggling Yankees offense to the playoffs last year when no other regular had an OPS better than .768, and that was from a midseason acquisition in first baseman Anthony Rizzo.

There's still time to get this done, but it would behoove the Yankees to lock Judge in for the long term before the first pitch in the Bronx on Thursday.