Yankees Slugger Aaron Judge Opened up on Desire to Spend Entire Career in Pinstripes

Article Highlights:

  • New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge wants to play his entire career in pinstripes
  • The three-time American League All-Star said playing for the Bronx Bombers “feels like a dream”
  • Luckily for Judge, the Yankees will probably re-sign him despite the extreme risk in doing so

At his current pace, New York Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge will hit the open market as a free agent later this year. Despite the fact he’ll turn 30 in April and a frustrating injury history, the 6-foot-7, 282-pound All-Star should have no shortage of suitors when the next offseason begins.

However, Judge sounds like someone who would be perfectly happy if he never even needed to test free agency.

Aaron Judge wants to spend the rest of his career playing for the Yankees

New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge in 2021.
Aaron Judge is intent on playing his entire career for the New York Yankees | Steph Chambers/Getty Images

The Yankees wisely chose to build around Judge and his mammoth frame when he belted 52 home runs and earned American League Rookie of the Year honors in 2017. Nearly five years later, the three-time All-Star is on the brink of hitting free agency and potentially trading his pinstripes for a team that features a player’s name on the back.

In a recent interview with Yankees Magazine’s Alfred Santasiere III, Judge made it clear he not only wants to play his entire career for the Yankees, but he takes immense pride in being able to represent the organization and New York City.

“When you see the passion that our fans have and the energy that they bring to the Stadium every single night, you want to play well every time you step on the field, at home, or on the road. When you play for the Yankees, and you talk to other players around the league, it’s easy to get a sense of how special it is to play in New York. This is the mecca. This is where you want to play. This is what every baseball player wanted to do when they were little kids: wear the Yankees’ uniform.”

Aaron Judge

Judge also referenced his various conversations with Yankees legends, including National Baseball Hall of Famer closer Mariano Rivera and former World Series hero Reggie Jackson.

“They talk about the pride they have in putting on the pinstripes, and that always gets me fired up,” Judge said. “I want to do everything I can to represent this uniform in the best way possible.”

Luckily for Judge, the Yankees will probably re-sign him despite the extreme risk in doing so

Regardless of where he plays in 2023, Judge will spend all of next season at 31 years old, and his next contract will almost certainly take him deep into his late 30s. He missed significant action every year from 2018-20 because of various ailments, including a lingering right calf strain that limited him to 28 games in the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign.

Despite every conceivable risk involved, the Yankees will probably do everything in their power to keep Judge around for the long haul.

Judge is the face of the Yankees, and the Bronx Bombers traditionally haven’t let the organizational face leave through free agency. Every Yankees great from Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle through Don Mattingly and Derek Jeter retired before playing for another team. Only Babe Ruth, who played part of 1935 for the then-Boston Braves, and New York Mets second baseman Robinson Cano are notable exceptions.

Even with how great he’s been, Judge is nowhere close to those players. Cano was the game’s best second baseman when he left the Yankees for the Seattle Mariners following the 2013 season. More importantly, Cano was durable and no longer had maturity concerns by the time he hit free agency.

As for Judge? His boombox stunt after defeating the Boston Red Sox in Game 2 of the 2018 American League Division Series left a sour taste in Yankees fans’ mouths after the team lost the next two games. Judge has also dodged questions about his vaccination status and created the impression he has not received his shot.

If Judge is unvaccinated, he will be unable to play in the Yankees’ home games because the Bronx Bombers fall under the “private sector mandate” that keeps Kyrie Irving from playing in Brooklyn Nets home games.

When healthy, Judge is an outstanding player, and the Yankees should be thrilled he wants to finish his career in New York. However, whether or not they should award him a contract that could pay him over $30 million per season is still to be determined.

Whether or not the ‘Baby Bombers’ experiment failed is contingent on if Judge can finally win a World Series title

A first-round draft pick in 2013, the Yankees promoted Judge to the majors in August 2016 and hoped he’d contribute to a new young core. The Baby Bombers, as the group of top prospects was known at the time, were tasked with bringing World Series trophies back to the Bronx.

Yankees fans are still looking for that title, by the way.

The Yankees traded former All-Star catcher Gary Sanchez, who struggled too often with bouts of immaturity and poor effort, to the Minnesota Twins shortly after the lockout ended. First baseman Greg Bird failed to stay healthy and was designated for assignment following the 2019 season. The jury is still out on infielder Gleyber Torres, who smashed 38 homers in 2019 but has battled inconsistency over the last two years.

Although he wasn’t part of the original Baby Bombers group, utility player Miguel Andujar hasn’t lived up to expectations since a stellar rookie campaign in 2018. It remains unclear what his future is with the Yankees, although he remained on the active roster as of publication. First baseman/outfielder Tyler Austin, who debuted on the same day as Judge in 2016, was traded to the Twins in July 2018 and is currently playing in Japan.

After struggling in 2016, Luis Severino went 33-14 with a 3.18 ERA in 63 starts from 2017-18. However, injuries limited him to 18 regular-season innings over the next three seasons. Luckily for the Yankees, the two-time All-Star will spend the entire 2022 season at 28 years old and is expected to make the Opening Day roster.

If the Yankees intend on investing in Judge for the long-term, the organization only should do so only if they believe he’s the key to ending a 13-year World Series drought. Respectfully, there’s only been so much thus far to prove he’s the man capable of bringing a championship parade back to the Canyon of Heroes, and the Yankees would be wise to remember that reality during any extension talks.

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