What’s next for Aaron Judge after record-setting season?

The New York Yankees have a deep history of having players who are amongst the best in the league, a history that spans back over 100 years. With renowned players such as Lou Gehrig, Yogi Berra, Joe DiMaggio, and Babe Ruth all spending much of their marquee careers playing for the Yanks. But more recently, the team finds itself host to one player who seems to float higher than the rest. A generational talent and a guy who, despite a late start to his career, has brought himself into the Hall of Fame conversation. Aaron Judge, is the man behind all the madness this year in the MLB. The 30-year-old slugger has put on quite a show for the fans this year, and he couldn’t have picked a better year to do it.

Judge burst onto the Major League Baseball scene back in 2017 as a 25 year old. As a guy who sits at 6’7 285 pounds, he’s hard to miss. He was drafted back in 2013 by the Yankees and sat in the minor leagues for many years. When he finally got his chance to play in the bigs, he showed out. In his rookie season, Judge hammered in 52 home runs, shattering the rookie record. He was unanimously named rookie of the year in 2017, and he also was the MVP runner up for the American League. 
Judge proved his worth year after year, helping the Yankees reach the postseason every year since 2017. He has been ranked in the MLB’s top 100 players every year of his career, sitting well below 50th every time, often breaking top 20.  

After the conclusion of the 2021 season, another season where the Yankees came up short of a pennant and a trip to the World Series, Judge’s contract came to an end and he went into free agency. This past April, the Yankees offered Judge a 7-year contract worth $213.5 million, with an included extra $17 million for arbitration. He proceed to turn this deal down. Many analysts believe that after the incredible season by Judge, he could be the MLB’s next $300 million player. And his season has been incredible so far, to say the least. 

At the conclusion of the regular season 162 games, Judge sits at 62 total home runs, 16 clear of the next best player. He broke the American League home run record of 61 on Tuesday October 5th, set 61 years ago by then-Yankee Roger Maris, and he set the new record only a couple days later. On top of all this, he currently sits ranked 5th in the league for batting average at .311. Judge rests at the top of several other league batting statistics as well: he is tied for first in runs batted in, ranked eighth in total hits, first in on-base percentage, slugging percentage, on-base and slugging percentage, and total runs scored. Needless to say, it’s been quite a year for him.

So what’s the next step for 30 year-old Judge? He’s set to help the Yankees in the playoffs make a run at an American League Pennant and the 28th franchise World Series win. Judge looks to remain hot this offseason and continue his dominant streak of home runs and RBIs. One could assume he is in the running for World Series MVP should the Yankees go on to win. But how about next year?

Judge wasn’t pleased with the Yankees wild lowball offer last offseason, so who knows where he will end up.  As a guy who obviously seems to know his worth when it comes to baseball, he could end up with a blank check for a salary.  He’s made it unclear this season as to his destination for next year.  During interviews, he has been very vague and has kept fans guessing all year.  He’s said enough to satisfy fans and force them to try and guess, but not too much to the point where he gives things away.  

He has several teams in the market for him this year, with some willing to go to extremes in order to acquire him.  The San Francisco Giants have made it clear that they are willing to outbid the Yankees in order to attain Judge.  After a lackluster performance this season, they look to add the 2022 AL MVP to better their chances next year.  However, Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman has redeemed himself from his weak offer this past April.  He’s made it obvious that the Yankees are now willing to go the full nine yards to bring back Judge.  Cashman came out early September with the words: “There’s a pot of gold there. It’s yet to be determined what the gold is, how much it weighs, but it’s a pot of gold, there’s no question about it. Very good for him. It was already a big pot, and obviously it’s going to be even bigger,” (Marca.com). Teams such as the New York Mets and the Boston Red Sox have also been thrown into the discussion to bring home the 30-year-old slugger, however it can be inferred that almost every team in the league would love to have him.

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