SAN DIEGO – Aaron Judge has spent much of the offseason in baseball’s middle ground, chasing Roger Maris’ American League home run record.
If anyone can compete with that, we’ll see at the winter meetings, which started Sunday night, with the Judge’s free association. setting the tone for the rest of the season.
When Judge won his first AL MVP award last month, attention had shifted to his plans in free agency.
“I look forward to the continuation of the free entry program,” said Jaji at the time. “A lot of things don’t start until the winter meetings in December.”
The meetings began on Sunday at the Manchester Grand Hyatt, with the focus on the Judge, which is its free center it was already a big story in the baseball world even before Jacob deGrom chose to shut down the Mets in favor of the Rangers and the five-year, $185 million contract they gave him.
The timing and price of deGrom’s signing surprised some, but his destination — and the fact that he was willing to leave the Mets — was not.
It would seem like a huge shock if Judge ends up leaving the Bronx, even for the Giants away from his hometown of Linden, Calif.
The consensus heading into these meetings was that the Yankees – “believe in it they had $300 million on the table” for Judge, according to Jon Heyman of The Post, it remains a favorite to keep him.
But Judge he has already met Mdondo and has sounded open to offers from other teams since turning down the Yankees’ seven-year, $213.5 million deal on Opening Day.
Since taking that gamble, Judge has hit an American League record 62 homers and won the MVP award.
Until Judge goes there, much of the Yankees’ offseason plans are on hold.
They signed Anthony Rizzo to a new contract last month after the first baseman received a lot of interest from other teams, but until the Yankees know Judge’s future, they are unlikely to make many other moves.
General managing partner Hal Steinbrenner has come out in favor of keeping Judge in the Bronx and it is believed that the Yankees will reach nine years, but if the Giants go to 10 years, Judge is expected to end up in San Francisco.
“We know where we are,” Steinbrenner said of the team’s decision last month to seek Judge. “I can tell you, that won’t stop us.”
Steinbrenner added that he told the Judge he wanted to keep her.
There remains confidence in the organization that the Yankees will keep Judge and that he does not want to leave, something Steinbrenner said at the beginning of the season.
“I believe he wants to be a Yankee,” Steinbrenner said. “I think we have a good thing going here.”
But there is a fact that as long as the Judge is a free man, he can end up defying the Yankees.
Judge stood inside the clubhouse at Yankee Stadium and made a reference to the Yankees in the past after their season-ending loss to the Astros in the Bronx.
“To have the opportunity to put on the apron and play right field at Yankee Stadium, that’s an incredible honor that I never take lightly,” Judge said after the Yankees were swept out of the ALCS by the Astros. “It was a special moment. I’m just kicking myself for not bringing home that trophy.”
Maybe we’ll find out soon if Judge has another chance to do it with the Yankees.