New York Yankees legend Derek Jeter complimented Aaron Judge for almost certainly playing his way into a sizable paycheck this winter.
Jeter said on the "KayRod Cast" feed of Sunday's game between the Yankees and Red Sox that "you've gotta give [Judge] credit" for betting on himself with regard to his next contract:
.<a href="https://twitter.com/derekjeter?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@derekjeter</a> on <a href="https://twitter.com/TheJudge44?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@TheJudge44</a> 🤝<br><br>"What Aaron [Judge] has been able to do this year ... in a free agent year when all eyes are on you ... He's betting on himself, you've gotta give him credit for that" <a href="https://t.co/X6U8vYofKh">pic.twitter.com/X6U8vYofKh</a>
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman confirmed in April the team had tabled a seven-year, $213.5 million extension to Judge.
Judge's annual salary ($30.5 million) would've ranked 13th in MLB and only looked worse as bigger contracts are handed out over the next few years. From that perspective, his stance at the negotiating table was understandable.
At the same time, the four-time All-Star turned 30 in April, has battled injuries over the last few years and is a bit of a physical anomaly (6'7", 282 pounds). Before the year opened, it wasn't a foregone conclusion he'd command more than the Yankees were willing to offer.
Judge has proceeded to make his skeptics look foolish. Through 110 games, he's leading the majors in home runs (46), RBI (100), slugging percentage (.684) and OPS (1.086). His 7.5 WAR ranks first among position players on FanGraphs.
There's still some long-term risk in giving the imposing slugger a deal reaching seven years or more. Miguel Cabrera and Albert Pujols are two of the more recent examples of how Hall of Fame hitters can fall off a cliff when they hit their late 30s.
But Judge is at least in line to make more than what the Bronx Bombers were prepared to give him, so his gamble should yield a healthy return.