The Aaron Judge sweepstakes are officially underway.
According to sources, the reigning American League MVP will meet with the Giants on Tuesday, sitting down with a club expected to be one of the Yankees’ biggest competitors to sign the superstar.
Judge was spotted in the San Francisco area Monday, caught on video released by MLB Network.
“Visiting some family and friends; that’s about it,” Judge said in the video when asked what he was doing in San Francisco. Pressed on whether he had “any fun plans” while in the Bay Area, Judge replied, “We’ve got something. Have a good one.”
The Giants are the first team other than the Yankees to meet with Judge this offseason, though the Dodgers are also expected to be in the mix. Judge grew up about 100 miles east of San Francisco in Linden, Calif., so a deal with the Giants would represent a homecoming of sorts for the 30-year-old.
San Francisco has plenty of payroll flexibility this offseason, something president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi discussed this month at the General Managers Meetings, without specifically mentioning Judge or any other player.
“From a financial standpoint, there’s nobody that would be out of our capability to kind of meet what we expect the contract demands will be,” Zaidi said. “It’ll just be a question of whether there’s mutual interest and how we put together the best possible team.”
Judge is believed to be seeking a deal of at least eight years with an average annual value exceeding $40 million.
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman confirmed last week that the club had made a new offer to the superstar outfielder, who turned down a seven-year, $213.5 million extension offer prior to the season.
“We’re in real time, so we’re on the clock,” Cashman said. “We’re certainly not going to mess around.”
Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner said recently that he has spoken with Judge on multiple occasions since the end of the season, including at least one face-to-face meeting.
“I've absolutely conveyed that I want him to be a Yankee for the rest of his life,” Steinbrenner told reporters at last week’s owners meetings. “No doubt about that. He knows that.”
Late last week, Judge called his talk with Steinbrenner “a great sign for me in this process,” but that doesn’t mean he’s not going to explore all that free agency has to offer -- which includes Tuesday’s meeting with the Giants.
“I don’t know how fast it’s going to go or how slow it’s going to go,” Judge said Thursday at his All Rise Foundation gala. “There’s teams that we’ve talked to. For me, if we’re going to build a winning team, if I can get my [contract] stuff out of the way so they can kind of move on and add some more pieces to build teams up, I think that’s always an advantage for wherever I go.”