Notes: Judge extension talks; Yanks' SS need

November 19th, 2021

NEW YORK -- ’s potential contract extension will be a topic of discussion this offseason, according to Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, who plans to swap financial figures with the All-Star outfielder before Spring Training.

Judge has expressed his desire to play his entire career in pinstripes, coming off a season in which he paced the club in numerous offensive categories. Judge is entering his final year of arbitration eligibility and could be a free agent after the 2022 season.

“We’ll have to have conversations about a one- or a more multi-year-level deal,” Cashman said. “We’re essentially a season away from free agency, so we’ll have to have conversations with Aaron Judge’s representation. But obviously he’s been a great Yankee and he’s certainly impacted us in such a positive way for quite a long time, so it’d be nice to keep it going.”

Judge turns 30 in April and earned $10.175 million this past season, when he hit .287/.373/.544 (149 OPS+) with 24 doubles, 39 home runs and 98 RBIs in 148 games.

At the MLB Owners’ Meetings in Chicago this week, Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner expressed his desire to keep Judge in New York.

"He's a great Yankee,” Steinbrenner told reporters. “He's one of the faces of the franchise, and he's a great leader, great in the clubhouse. So it's definitely something I'm willing to talk to Cash about, but nothing formal has happened yet."

Moves to make
As Cashman prepared to spend an evening sleeping outside, part of his support for Covenant House International, the GM said he has been spending many late nights wrestling with moves ahead of Friday’s 6 p.m. ET deadline to protect players from the Rule 5 Draft.

“We’ve played on pitching in the trade and free-agent market, but our focus is still trying to address the shortstop area more than anything else,” Cashman said.

The Yankees have spoken with the representatives for free agent shortstops Carlos Correa, Corey Seager, Marcus Semien, Trevor Story and Javier Baez. They are also entertaining stopgap solutions with top prospects Anthony Volpe and Oswald Peraza expected to be big league ready in 2023.

“[Shortstop is] an area that we feel we need to address,” Cashman said. “How that gets addressed remains to be seen. Will it be in a big way, a small way, an acceptable way? We’ll see. Will it be obvious? Will it be subtle? Time will tell.”

Building the bench
The Yankees’ coaching staff will grow in 2022. Cashman indicated that the club is looking to hire three hitting coaches and an additional pitching coach to assist returning coaches Matt Blake and Mike Harkey.

“There’s an industry movement of adding a third, so I think we’re probably going to line up that way as well,” Cashman said. “We certainly have taken notice that some teams have had a lot of success by adding a third specialty coach in those categories, whether it’s pitching or hitting or both.”

The Braves, for example, have three hitting coaches at the Major League level: Kevin Seitzer, Jose Castro and Bobby Magallanes. The Astros employed three pitching coaches this past season: Brent Strom, Joshua Miller and Bill Murphy.

“We’ve always kind of spoken to the fact that the Yankees should be using every tool in the toolbox to our advantage to benefit our players,” Cashman said. “If adding a third one is going to allow our personnel to do a lot more to try to impact our players in a positive way, then I know our ownership is already all-in on that.”

Bombers bits
• Aaron Hicks has received a green light to play in the Dominican Winter League, knocking off rust as the switch-hitting outfielder returns from season-ending left wrist surgery. Cashman said that the team has heard that Hicks is “working his tail off” and “is in tremendous shape.”

• Brett Gardner’s representatives have conveyed that the outfielder wants to play in 2022. Cashman said that the club has not spoken with Gardner’s representatives since declining to exercise the 38-year-old’s club option for next season.