Aaron Judge Rumors: Yankees Star Unlikely to Sign Long-Term Contract Before Deadline

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVApril 8, 2022

TAMPA, FLORIDA - MARCH 30: Aaron Judge #99 of the New York Yankees runs to first 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

The New York Yankees and All-Star outfielder Aaron Judge didn't reach an agreement on a long-term contract extension before the team's first game of the 2022 season Friday, which was the slugger's deadline for a deal.

ESPN's Jeff Passan reported earlier Friday the Yanks made an offer worth over $225 million, but their efforts fell short, which general manager Brian Cashman later confirmed:

Jeff Passan @JeffPassan

Official from Yankees GM Brian Cashman: No long-term deal for Aaron Judge. Said Yankees offered a seven-year, $213.5 million extension, which, paired with the $17 million they’ve offered in arbitration this season, would have made the entire package just over $230 million.

Judge said he didn't want to discuss the negotiations any further until after Friday's home clash with the rival Boston Red Sox, which is slated for a 1:05 p.m. ET first pitch.

"We'll have an update for you guys. I've got a game to focus on right now," he told reporters. "So if it happens, it happens. If it doesn't, I'll see you guys after the game and we'll talk about that."

Judge is entering his final year of arbitration. He's eligible to become a free agent after the 2022 season if a deal with the Yankees isn't reached.

A contract package worth $225 million would rank tied for 15th in MLB with Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto, per Spotrac.

Here's a look at the top five:

  1. Mike Trout (Los Angeles Angels): $426.5 million
  2. Mookie Betts (Los Angeles Dodgers): $365 million
  3. Francisco Lindor (New York Mets): $341 million
  4. Fernando Tatis Jr. (San Diego Padres): $340 million
  5. Bryce Harper (Philadelphia Phillies): $330 million

Judge would have an opportunity to crack that list if he hits the open market next winter.

The 29-year-old California native made his debut for the Yankees in 2016 and has established himself as one of MLB's top power hitters over the past five seasons. His 154 home runs between 2017 and 2021 ranked fifth in baseball.

He's earned three All-Star selections and two Silver Slugger Awards after being named the 2017 AL Rookie of the Year.

Judge owns a .276/.386/.554 career slash line, and his .940 OPS across 572 games for New York would rank second among all active players if he had enough plate appearances to qualify. He needs 535 more PAs, putting him on pace to join the list this year if he stays healthy.

It's hard to imagine the Yankees would let him get away, but the same thing was said with Freddie Freeman and the Atlanta Braves at this time last year. Now he's a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers, though Atlanta found a high-end replacement in Matt Olson.

Once a superstar hits free agency and can listen to pitches from other teams, including big-spenders like the Dodgers and New York Mets, all bets are off.

Getting a deal done before Friday's game would have allowed Yankees fans to breathe a sigh of relief, but it appears that won't be the case and the drama will only build from here.