Cashman: Yanks 'negotiating hard' in pursuit of Judge
SAN DIEGO -- The Yankees were on the phone with Aaron Judge one day after the end of the American League Championship Series and have made multiple contract offers to the free agent since that time, according to general manager Brian Cashman, who said his dialogue with the slugger’s camp continued on Monday.
But as Day 1 of the Winter Meetings concluded at the Manchester Grand Hyatt, the Yankees still had no clear indication if Judge favored their offer. Cashman and manager Aaron Boone said they were unaware of Judge’s plans to appear at the Winter Meetings on Tuesday, as MLB.com reported, and had no plans to meet in person with Judge.
“It’s his dance card,” Cashman said. “He’s a free agent. He has a chance to make decisions for him and his family. I can tell you that we are negotiating hard. [Yankees managing general partner] Hal Steinbrenner has been very public. I can tell you Hal is putting his money where his mouth is, where he told his fan base he was going to make every effort to sign this player.”
According to published reports, the Yankees have offered approximately eight years and $300 million to Judge; Cashman would not confirm if that package has increased in recent days. The Giants hosted Judge for a Bay Area visit recently, and the Dodgers are believed to be among the clubs on the periphery for the 2022 AL Most Valuable Player Award winner.
“We’d love to have our player back,” Cashman said. “We’d love to be able to continue to call him our player every step of the way as he follows what looks like -- as long as nothing happens -- a career path right to Cooperstown. We’d love it to be in pinstripes every step of the way. At the same time, there’s competition. Who they are or how many, I couldn’t tell you. I just know we’re putting our best foot forward and feel we have a lot to offer.”
Cashman said he has received no assurance from Judge’s agent, Page Odle, that the Yankees would have an opportunity to match or top any final offer.
Judge, who turns 30 next April, enjoyed a performance for the ages this past season, shattering Roger Maris’ 61-year-old AL single-season home run record with 62 homers while batting .311/.425/.686 in 157 games. Judge led the Majors in runs (133), homers, RBIs (131), slugging percentage, on-base percentage, OPS (1.111), OPS+ (211) and total bases (391).
Boone said he is trying not to become “overly optimistic or pessimistic” about the Yankees’ chances of retaining Judge.
“I talked to Aaron a few days ago on my own, not at all really involved with the negotiations,” Boone said. “I was more just checking in with him, seeing how he’s doing and seeing what he’s got going over the next month -- sprinkled with a little, ‘So, let’s go.’”
To that comment, Boone said, Judge offered “that subtle laugh, playful, like, ‘We’ll get there.’”
Steinbrenner and Cashman were both on that first call with Judge after the ALCS loss to the Astros. Steinbrenner later met face-to-face with Judge on at least one occasion, with Steinbrenner telling Judge that he wanted him to be “a Yankee for life.” Steinbrenner also promised Judge that the Yankees had enough money to satisfy his contract and still add more players.
Judge appreciated the gesture but said he and his family were looking forward to enjoying the free-agency process. As the baseball world filled a San Diego hotel lobby, Judge was on the sidelines at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., cheering on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in their Monday Night Football contest against the New Orleans Saints.
As Judge took in the game, he wore the jersey of Bucs wide receiver Mike Evans, repaying a gesture from September, when Evans tried on Judge’s uniform top during the home run chase. The Yankees’ spring home of George M. Steinbrenner Field sits less than a mile away, where it remains unclear if Judge’s No. 99 will be hanging in a locker next spring.
“Certainly, we’d love to land the plane favorably here in New York, in the Bronx,” Cashman said. “But we’re not flying the plane, so we’ll wait.”