Aaron Judge Contract: Yankees Fans Should Be Concerned as Opening Day Approaches

The New York Yankees remain engulfed in star outfielder Aaron Judge’s contract situation. Judge is in the final year of his deal, making $17 million set to hit free agency before the 2023 campaign.

The three-time All-Star has been quite vocal concerning his desire to work out an extension before the season opener in the coming days. However, the Yankees and the star slugger haven’t progressed toward an extension, which should draw growing concern from the fan base.

Aaron Judge wants a new deal done before Opening Day

New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge jogs off the field.
Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge jogs off the field. | Rob Leiter/MLB Photos via Getty Images

As much as Judge wants to focus on the 2022 season, his contract situation is the talk around the Yankees.

The star outfielder remains without a long-term deal. Last week, the 29-year-old put more pressure on general manager Brian Cashman by voicing that he wants a new deal done before Opening Day.

“If we’re able to talk and get something done in spring training before the season starts, that would be ideal, especially since this is an important year,” Judge said via CBS Sports. “We’ve got a lot of things to focus on during the course of the year, winning a division and winning a championship here in New York.

“I don’t want contract talks or extensions and all that talk to be a distraction throughout the year. So, if we’re able to agree to something here in the spring before we head up to New York, that’s wonderful and it would be an honor. If not, we’ll talk after the season.”

Judge doesn’t want the discussion to bleed into the 2022 season. He wants to keep his entire focus on helping push the Yankees forward, while he is more than willing to let that discussion pick up again next offseason.

He isn’t waning in his commitment to the organization but rather wants to handle it in the appropriate setting. However, the latest update around the matter shouldn’t excite Yankees fans.

Yankees fans should be concerned with Aaron Judge’s contract situation as Opening Day approaches

The Yankees are operating with a ticking clock to get a new deal done to keep their star slugger for the next several seasons.

Last week, Cashman voiced that the two sides will discuss the contract matters before the 2022 campaign. Since then, MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reported that the Yankees offered the 29-year-old a contract that will pay him an average annual salary of $30 million.

However, the team is unwilling to go anywhere near the roughly $35 million annual salary Mike Trout is earning with the Los Angeles Angels.

“My understanding is they’re willing to pay in the range of $30 million a year, maybe over, but the years are going to be a question, and my belief is they’re not going to want to go near [Mike] Trout and [Mookie] Betts,” Heyman said via Bleacher Report.

Judge is coming off a bounce-back 2021 season, where he held a triple slash of .287/.373/.544 with 39 home runs and 98 RBI. However, he’s struggled with injuries over the last few years. He played in only 28 of the 60 regular-season games in the 2020 COVID-19 shortened campaign, 102 games in 2019, and 112 appearances in 2018.

There is no questioning his talent, but his durability may be a lingering concern keeping the Yankees from unloading the money that Judge wants.

The pressure is on the Yankees to get a new deal done

Much can certainly change before Opening Day, but Judge appears more than comfortable to let the situation play out next offseason.

The three-time All-star has an opportunity to build off last year that could lift the asking price on his next deal another notch. If the Yankees are unwilling to match that, another organization will gladly step in to offer him the contract he wants.

Again, Judge isn’t pushing his way out of New York, but at the end of the day, money talks, and the Yankees, more than any other team, know that.

Contract figures courtesy of Spotrac.

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