Yankees Must Pay Aaron Judge

Aaron Judge
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Aaron Judge is making a strong case to be the face of the New York Yankees for years to come. That point was fairly evident even before the season, when the sides failed to agree on a multi-year extension. However, Judge’s multiple showcase performances within the last week have sent the loudest message yet.┬áThe onus is now on the Yankees to pay Aaron Judge as much as is necessary to keep him in pinstripes. Judge decided to bet on himself before the season when he rejected the Yankees’ best offer. For now, that seemed to be the right move. The front office needs to recognize and reward that this offseason if he keeps it up.

Judge Continues Sizzling Start

Judge’s contract situation was a subject of much discussion this past offseason. When the two sides failed to reach an agreement by Judge’s self-imposed Opening Day deadline, it caused some controversy. This was especially true after the Yankees revealed the terms of their final offer: a seven-year extension worth an average of $30 million a year. Some saw Judge as greedy for turning down such a lucrative offer. From another perspective, however, he was betting on himself to have a huge season. This would presumably justify a bigger deal later on.

If Judge is indeed betting on himself, it is certainly going well for him so far. In 35 games this season, he is batting .306 with a major league-leading 14 home runs, 30 RBI, and a staggering 1.045 OPS. These numbers are even more incredible considering the fact that Judge got off to a relatively slow start in the first couple weeks. He had only one homer and two RBI through his first 13 games. At his current offensive pace, however, Judge should be in the conversation for American League MVP.

Two recent performances in particular highlight Judge’s dominance and value to the Yankees. Last week, with the Yanks down by two in the ninth, Judge hit a majestic three-run homer to beat the Toronto Blue Jays. It was his first career walk-off home run and arguably one of the signature moments as a Yankee thus far. This past Tuesday, Judge flexed his power once more against the Baltimore Orioles, contributing to a 5-4 win. He opened with an RBI double in the first inning, then smacked two solo homers in his next two at-bats. The double would have been a homer in every other MLB park, but the new left field wall in Baltimore contained it.

Paying Aaron Judge a Top Priority for Yankees

The Yankees’ best offer to Judge before the season was fairly generous. Even so, Judge decided he was likely worth more, and decided to test that theory. So far, he is successfully making the case that it will take more than $30.5 million a year to sign him in the offseason. It may take more than a seven-year deal as well. If he continues to stay healthy and have an MVP-caliber campaign, the team will have no choice. The Yankees will need to break out the checkbook and pay Aaron Judge what he is worth, which is evidently an enormous amount. If they employ the same strategy as before, they risk losing him to free agency. That is something they can’t afford to do with the current (and possibly future) face of the franchise.

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