Aaron Judge arrived in New York in 2017 as an aw-shucks rookie, embracing his newfound celebrity status with wide-eyed wonder. Five seasons later, he is the de facto captain of the Yankees, the slugger’s actions and words carrying immense weight within those walls.
Being a Yankee is all that Judge has experienced as a professional, and with potential free agency looming after next season, it is all that he hopes to know.
“I want to be a Yankee for life,” Judge said after the club’s 6-2 loss to the Red Sox in Tuesday’s American League Wild Card Game. “I want to wear these pinstripes for the rest of my career and represent this great organization, and bring a championship back to the city.
“You never know what the future holds for you; that’s kind of out of my hands. All I can really do is continue to show up here, continue to try to lead these guys and give all I can for this team and this city, every single day.”
There have been no discussions concerning a contract extension for Judge, who earned $10.175 million this past season and will be in his final arbitration year in 2022. He turns 30 in April.
A native of Linden, Calif., Judge grew up rooting for the Giants -- his favorite players were outfielder Barry Bonds and infielder Rich Aurilia -- but switched his allegiances to the East Coast after being selected by the Yankees 31st overall in the 2013 MLB Draft.
“It’s just an incredible honor,” Judge said. “There’s no better place to play, no better organization to be a part of, based on its history and the staff we have, the players that come through here. You get an opportunity to go to the postseason every single year. That’s something special.
“I’ve given a lot, sacrificed a lot for this team. They’ve sacrificed a lot, given me this opportunity and this chance. I want to bring it home here. You never know what the future holds for you, so I’ve just got to continue to do what I can to improve as a player and improve as a person. We’ll see what happens.”