Yankees' Aaron Judge Discusses Opening Day Deadline for Contract Extension

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVApril 4, 2022

New York Yankees' Aaron Judge hits a solo home run during the first inning of a spring training baseball game against the Atlanta Braves, Saturday, April 2, 2022, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
AP Photo/Lynne Sladky

The final season on Aaron Judge's contract starts Thursday, and the New York Yankees slugger isn't interested in discussing an extension if it doesn't happen before Opening Day.

"After Opening Day, I got a job to do," he said Monday, per ESPN's Marly Rivera. "I got something to focus on. We'll see at the end of the year … if it comes to that point; it is what it is. Either way, it's going to be one year or multiple years, so I'm not too worried."

Judge's comments were all the more notable after former player and current Yankees broadcaster Carlos Beltran suggested the extension was done before walking it back:      

Jon Heyman @JonHeyman

New Yankees broadcaster Carlos Beltran suggested Yankees star Aaron Judge had an extension with the team on the broadcast today, but was told to correct himself. He did. No deal yet is the word. Official word: it was a first broadcast mistake by Beltran.

"That's great," Judge told reporters when told about Beltran's comments. "Carlos is my man, so I think he was just looking out to have my back a little bit there."

The idea that Judge doesn't want to negotiate during the season is not a new one. In fact, he told reporters as much at the start of spring training:

 "If we're able to talk and get something done in spring training before the season starts, that would be ideal, especially since this is an important year. We've got a lot of things to focus on during the course of the year, winning a division and winning a championship here in New York. I don't want contract talks or extensions and all that talk to be a distraction throughout the year. So, if we're able to agree to something here in the spring before we head up to New York, that's wonderful and it would be an honor. If not, we'll talk after the season."

He also said in March he "wants to be a Yankee for life" and was "optimistic" a deal would get done, per Bryan Hoch of MLB.com.

Judge, 29, is one of the faces of the franchise in New York with a resume that features an American League Rookie of the Year, two Silver Sluggers and three All-Star selections. He figures to remain productive for the foreseeable future, and the timing of contract discussions comes after an important showing during the 2021 campaign.

He slashed .287/.373/.544 with 39 home runs and 98 RBI in 148 games as an All-Star and Silver Slugger who proved his durability after playing just 102 games in 2019 and 28 games in the shortened 2020 season.

If the Yankees were worried about his ability to stay on the field before a possible contract extension, he answered some of those questions and is primed to once again anchor the lineup in 2022.

The biggest question now is what his contract status will be when he takes the field for Thursday's opener.