TAMPA — As Aaron Judge’s contract saga continues, the outfielder has repeatedly said he wants to remain a Yankee for the rest of his career — but he’s also touched on the reality that if he had hit free agency, there would be plenty of other teams like him.
It’s a possibility his teammates don’t want to imagine.
“I can’t imagine him anywhere else,” DJ LeMahieu said this week. “I don’t think anyone could. I don’t even want to think about it.”
Judge can be a free agent after this season. Arbitration numbers were only recently exchanged due to the MLB lockdown preventing off-season business from being conducted for more than three months, and the Yankees and judge were unable to discuss an extension — or anything else — until the walkout was over.
The Yankees’ priority then was to fill out that year’s roster, and they agreed to one-year contracts with their other 11 arbitration-eligible players.
That leaves Judge, who will receive an offer of renewal before opening day, according to general manager Brian Cashman, who honored Judge’s self-imposed deadline. The judge has said he doesn’t want to deal with the distraction of a trial after the season has started.
The judge later delayed some of that deadline, but both sides would clearly prefer an earlier than a later solution.
“I don’t think it would affect him, but when you’re in contract negotiations you definitely don’t want it to drag into the season,” Aaron Hicks said. “You want to focus on the season so I think it’s so important for him that he wants to make it. It relaxes your mind and you are at peace with whatever is happening. You have some kind of resolution. The longer it lingers, the harder it can become to play. I hope they come up with something soon and he stays a Yankee for the rest of his career.”
LeMahieu was able to secure a new free-hand deal this past offseason. And Hicks avoided the free hand entirely by signing a seven-year, $70 million extension ahead of the 2019 season – after agreeing to a one-year contract in arbitration.
“For some people, having a free hand is a great experience,” Hicks said. “And for some people, it’s not. Another year to go [before hitting the market]worrying about your health and all the other things that come into play might make you play a little safer.
Like LeMahieu, Hicks hopes Judge doesn’t do that.
“I hope he never goes anywhere,” Hicks said. “Nobody wants that. He came straight from Fresno state and slipped straight into a Yankee uniform. That’s where he belongs. He’s great for this team.”
The judge turns 30 next month and is expected to have at least a six- or seven-year contract worth over $200 million.
He’s had his best and healthiest season since he was a rookie in 2017.
During that time, he was the Yankees’ biggest star.
“He’s definitely become the leader of this team over the past few years,” said Kyle Higashioka. “It definitely wouldn’t be the same without him, but the front office gets paid for what they do. There’s not much I or anyone else can do to change that.”
According to Higashioka, when the pressure of the discussions gets on Judge, he doesn’t show it.
“When I casually talk to him every day, I can’t see anything that concerns him. He seems normal,” Higashioka said. “He’s really good at it too. He’s really strong mentally. … That’s what you need in baseball.”
https://nypost.com/2022/03/28/yankees-teammates-cant-imagine-aaron-judge-with-another-team/ Yankees teammates can’t picture Aaron Judge on any other team