Will Aaron Judge Leave the Yankees as a Free Agent?
Judge joined the Yankees’ top four farm systems in 2018 when the club drafted him with the No. 6 overall pick. The Texas Tech product has turned into a very valuable player during his four-year major league career, and this past season he led all Yankee rookie outfielders with a.320 batting average and 33 doubles and was selected to the 2019 AL Most Valuable Player Award and World Cup of Softball (WCS) All-Star Game in July. The Yankees have long been known as the Yankees of the NL East, but they’ve been doing the same thing in the AL East, also winning the World Series in 2017.
Although the Yankees and Judge have enjoyed a great relationship over the years, the team’s outfield currently is lacking one of the game’s best all-around players. The team has not yet made a deal to bring Judge back to the Bronx, but will likely have to if he doesn’t choose to do so. Yankees general manager Brian Cashman and MLB executive vice president of baseball operations Joe Girardi both have been vocal about their desire to bring Judge back, and Judge himself has said that he wants to stay in New York.
“I would love to be a Yankee,” Judge said when asked at the MLB Network’s Winter Meetings in January about what his legacy could be. “Obviously, as I have gotten older I have a whole different perspective, but I love playing in New York. It was my favorite place growing up, it’s still my favorite place to play. I look forward to the opportunity this year.”
There are a lot of factors that could lead to a change in Judge’s plans, and several have been rumored to be the most important: the Yankees’ willingness to make such a move, Judge’s desire to stay, the New York Yankees’ refusal to pay what would almost certainly be a record-setting contract to Judge, etc.
While the Yankees obviously want to retain Judge, his value has come to the forefront again in the last few weeks. Judge has been a model of consistency, and he’s one of the best young players in all of baseball. His 2017 performance was the best by an AL rookie in at least a decade, as well as a franchise record. He ranks second in the AL with a.303 batting average, 33 doubles, 15